We’ve all likely heard the expression, “The only constant is change” — and we’ve certainly learned over the past few years that this is true. The change that is coming to the Little Falls Catholic Community is that the parishes of St. Stanislaus, Sacred Heart, and St. James have joined the Little Falls parishes under one pastor with two parochial vicars. Fr. Jimmy Joseph will be moving to a new assignment, and Fr. David Grundman will be moving to this Area Catholic Community. Fr. Grundman had been assigned to Flensburg about 20 years ago — for him, it’s a welcome back.
Julie Zupko has been a member at Sacred Heart in Flensburg for more than 30 years. She looks forward to the change because this allows Sacred Heart to lean on bigger parishes.
“We can grow,” she says. “We’ve grown immensely in the years I’ve been here. Being a small parish in a small town, there’s only so much we could do. We can lean on the help of the other parishes for things now.”
As Julie notes, the Little Falls parishes have gone through changes as well, and it will be a great help to lean on them for advice and support. She knows there will be some growing pains with the change, like any, but she looks forward to the possibilities. For now, Fr. Ben Kociemba has agreed there will be no major changes to Mass times, religious education, etc.
“The wheel isn’t broken,” she says. “The parish staff will guide us in doing things more efficiently. That will be a great asset.”
Now, Julie looks forward to being able to have more office staff and priests to work together, in turn giving everyone a bit more space and peace. She hopes all parishioners will look out for the good of our priests as we move through any changes.
“Our priests have a lot of demands and things on their plates,” she says. “Change can be hard on our priests, and I hope parishioners think about that before they start to judge. We need to be supportive and put ourselves in their shoes.”
Fr. Jimmy was with the parishes for about 12 years, and Julie notes that everyone will miss him. She speaks for everyone when she says “God bless” as he embarks on his new assignment.
“He has shown us how to be, and we need to prove we can do that with new priests we have been given,” Julie says.
For about 20 years, Julie has been a trustee and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Sacred Heart. When she married Douglas, a lifetime member, she joined the parish. Sacred Heart is a special place to her and it truly feels like home.
“I can hear the bells from my yard,” she says. “Mass is a great way to say ‘hi’ to neighbors. I love that you see much of the community at Mass.”
Julie hopes parishioners of the six parishes will be open to any changes as they come.
“Change is always scary,” she says. “Let’s try to talk about the positive and avoid the negative!”