St. John Paul II Parish formed by merger of two parishes in Affton

St. John Paul II is the new name of the merged St. Dominic Savio and St. George Parishes in Affton. 

Parishioners had submitted choices for a new name for the parish along with a rationale for that name. A parish communications committee and pastor Father Paul Rothschild narrowed the choices to four and submitted the names to Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

The two parishes will begin worshiping together at St. George Church on Sunday, May 20.

The parishes are merging with the goal of building a vibrant parish life centered on meaningful, transformative worship, faith formation for all ages and service to all, including outreach to needy people and those who have left the faith.

Archbishop Carlson approved the merger last month after consulting with the deans of each deanery, the Archdiocesan Finance Committee and Priests' Council.

Father Rothschild, pastor of the new St. John Paul II Parish, said that parishioners involved in studying the parishes' future reported they believe that through the cooperative efforts of all St. Dominic Savio and St. George parishioners, "we can build on our positive values, and reverse the negative trends, to create an atmosphere where the Catholic faith can not only survive, but thrive and grow."

One of those parishioners, Linda Bakersmith of St. Dominic Savio, said "this has been an emotional decision and process for all involved, and our goal was to recognize that, and try to ease everyone through it. Communication about each step in the process was key, along with giving people a way to share their thoughts, concerns and opinions. As sad as it can be to feel like you're losing a place that's been your home for worship, and for many, that's been such a long time, I can say that now I'm looking forward to worshiping with our new parish family."

Father Thomas Robertson served as pastor of St. George Parish until Jan. 3, 2017, when he was named senior associate pastor of St. Dominic Savio and St. George and Father Rothschild added the pastorship of St. George in addition to St. Dominic, where he has served since June 2013. Father Robertson retired Jan. 1.

The two parishes had been operating as "twinned" parishes. A "vision team" created in a planning process studied trends in the Catholic population and registered parishioners, programs and facilities in both parishes to determine how to collaborate on a plan of growth. Data showed Mass attendance, offertory gifts and volunteers declining in both parishes. A proposal for a merger was presented at parish-wide meetings in September. Alternatives to the merger were sought and studied.

The week after Easter, 80 parishioners, evenly distributed from both parishes, came together in the St. Dominic Savio cafeteria for two days to learn about their shared spiritual gifts and the benefits of biblical stewardship.

"This is a moment in the life of both parishes when we can think creatively, think outside the box, about our life together," Father Rothschild wrote in communicating with parishioners. "It is an opportune moment to reorganize our life, rethink how we carry out our apostolates and worship God. I know that most of us find comfort and security in regular routines, but those same routines can also become deadening. This is an exciting time when the Holy Spirit is as close to us as He was to the early Church as it was coming together in the beginning at Pentecost."

A new parish council will continue doing the work of vision-making and strategic planning. And a parish leadership team will assist the pastor.

On Jan. 20, the twinned parishes had a third large parish planning meeting, this time with Msgr. Dennis Stehly, vicar general of the archdiocese, who listened to the cares and concerns of the people of both parishes.

At that meeting, there was equal representation from both parishes and every parishioner had the opportunity to speak. The concerns expressed, the questions asked and the responses shared were honest, frank and cordial, Father Rothschild reported. Several people from both parishes spoke of the benefits that came to them when they had to move and become new members of parishes during their lifetime. "Difficult as those changes were, each new parish experience enriched their lives," the parish pastor said. 

Decree for the suppression of St. Dominic Savio Parish

In accord with the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law (canons 120 §1, 121, and 515 §§2 & 3) and having consulted the Presbyteral Council, I hereby officially suppress the Parish of St. Dominic Savio in St. Louis County, Missouri. By an extinctive union St. Dominic Savio Parish and St. George Parish in St. Louis County shall become a new parish named St. John Paul II Parish.

The temporal goods formerly belonging to St. Dominic Savio Parish are to belong to the St. John Paul II Parish.

I also direct that all ecclesiastical records of St. Dominic Savio Parish be forwarded to the Archives of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

The reasons for said closure is attending to the pastoral needs of the faithful in the territory of St. Dominic Savio Parish and St. George Parish in the context of a declining number of priests available to serve as pastors.

This decree takes effect from July 1, 2018. The publication of this decree in the official Archdiocesan newspaper, The St. Louis Review, will be presumed as the official notification of this action.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

Decree for the suppression of St. George Parish

In accord with the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law (canons 120 §121, and 515 §§2 & 3) and having consulted the Presbyteral Council, I hereby officially suppress the Parish of St. George in St. Louis County, Missouri. By an extinctive union St. George Parish and St. Dominic Savio Parish in St. Louis County shall become a new parish named St. John Paul Il Parish.

The temporal goods formerly belonging to St. George Parish are to belong to St. John Paul II Parish.

I also direct that all ecclesiastical records of St. George Parish be forwarded to the Archives of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

The reasons for said closure is attending to the pastoral needs of the faithful in the territory of St. George Parish and St. Dominic Savio Parish in the context of a declining number of priests available to serve as pastors.

This decree takes effect from July 1, 2018. The publication of this decree in the official Archdiocesan newspaper, The St. Louis Review, will be presumed as the official notification of this action.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

Decree for the establishment of St. John Paul II Parish

Upon suppression of the Parish of St. George and the Parish of St. Dominic Savio in St. Louis County, Missouri, in accordance with the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law (canons 374 §1 and 515 §2) and after consultationwith Presbyteral Council, I hereby officially establish in St. Louis County a new parish named St. John Paul II Parish.

The boundaries of St. John Paul II Parish will be as follows:

Starting at Watson Road and River des Peres; West on Watson Road (south side) to the intersection with the Frisco Railroad tracks; South along the tracks (east side) to the southern boundary of Resurrection Cemetery;

East along the cemetery boundary to New Hampshire Avenue; South on New Hampshire Avenue (east side) continuing across Heege Road to Langley Avenue; East from this point on an imaginary line (which is the extension of Langley Avenue) to the intersection of Langley Avenue and Mackenzie Road; South on Mackenzie Road (east side) to the southern boundary of Our Redeemer Cemetery; East along the southern boundary of the cemetery to Charlton Lane; South on Charlton Lane (east side) to Weber Road;

East on Weber Road (both sides) to Neier Lane; East from this intersection on an imaginary line to the intersection of Gravois and Niles;

Southeast on Niles (north side) toArvin Place;

East on Arvin Place (both sides) to Meister Lane (including the streetsto the south: Congo and Niger Drives, Tiber Court, Tiber Circle, & Tiber Street);

Continuing East on Arvin Place toDana Avenue;

North on Dana Avenue (both sides) to the southern boundary of the Village of Wilbur Park;

East on the southern boundary of Wilbur Park and its extension to the western end of Schmittwoods Court;

East on Schmittwoods Court (both sides) to Kammerer;

North on Kammerer (west side) and its extension to the southern boundary of Sts. Peter & Paul Cemetery (at Germania Avenue and Primm Avenue);

Northwest along the southern boundary of cemetery to Gravois Road;

West on Gravois Road to Hampton Avenue;

North on Hampton Avenue (neither side) to Jamieson Avenue;

West on Jamieson Avenue (neither side) to Loughborough Avenue;

West on an imaginary line from Loughborough Avenue to River des Peres;

North along the River des Peres to Watson Road.

All Catholics living within the above described territory are considered members of St. John Paul II Parish, and as such, are subject to the spiritual jurisdiction of the Reverend Pastor of that parish and are, therefore, obliged to contribute to the support of the same parish.

This Decree takes effect from the 1st of July, 2018. The new boundaries should be made known to the parishioners of the aforementioned new parish in a manner determined by the Reverend Pastor. The publication of these boundaries in the official Archdiocesan newspaper, The St. Louis Review, will be presumed as the official notification of the boundaries as indicated above.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding. 

Parish histories

>> St. Dominic Savio

St. Dominic Savio Parish was established in 1956 out of portions of St. George, Annunciation, Seven Holy Founders and St. Raphael Parishes. The first Mass for the parish was celebrated on July 9, 1956, at Cardinal Glennon College Seminary Chapel.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the church and school on Mackenzie Road were held March 24, 1957. The parish school at one point had 773 students. The original plan called for the church to be replaced and turned into an auditorium, but that did not happen.

The school now is one of the campuses of Holy Cross Academy, serving preschool through fifth-grade students.

>> St. George

St. George Parish was founded in 1915 with a frame church that seated 180 and a two-room school building for 140 students. A two-story brick school was completed in 1917.

The present St. George Church was completed in 1928. Two church bells from the old St. Columbkille Church in St. Louis were moved to the belfry of St. George in 1952. A new school building was completed in 1954.

St. George School had an enrollment of more than 1,100 students in 1963, one of the largest schools in the archdiocese. It merged with St. Dominic Savio's school in 2004. The Affton Christian Food Pantry was dedicated in 2010. 

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