Union Faith Community brings 4 parishes together
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
September 2, 2004
HARTLEY/PRIMGHAR/SANBORN/SUTHERLAND - The Union Faith Community comprised of
four parishes in the Diocese of Sioux City has been working together as a
cluster for about two years now under the direction of Father Paul McKane, the
pastor of all four parishes.
The Union Faith Community consists of St. Joseph Parish in Hartley, St.
Anthony Parish in Primghar, St. Cecilia Parish in Sanborn and Sacred Heart
Parish in Sutherland. The parishes became a cluster in July of 2002.
"Since the word cluster has no spiritual meaning to it, we call it Union
Faith Community," explained Father McKane. "There is a high degree of
cooperation among the parishioners and a good spirit. We have a great deal in
The cluster has participated in a variety of activities together and
supported each of the parishes in individual endeavors as well.
"The people accept it," said Father McKane. "I have been
delighted at the growth I have seen in their attitudes towards working
The cluster shares in a talent show in which parishioners from each community
participate in. Each parish has a parish dinner every year that people from all
of the parishes attend.
"I think things are going well," said Terri Carnahan, Sacred Heart
parishioner and cluster secretary. "We have our moments, our growing pains,
but overall people have been most cooperative and willing to pitch in and help
where and when needed."
There are two Masses celebrated by Father McKane at each of the parishes
every week, one during the week and one over the weekend. According to Father
McKane, the parishioners are good about attending Masses at the other parishes
as well as at their own parish.
"They easily and readily attend each others Masses," said Father
McKane. "When we have parish functions that are in common, such as dinners
together or programs, there is great sharing. They are really good at supporting
each other. That's driving sometimes 23 miles from Sanborn down to
Each year since the start of the cluster, they have had a unity celebration.
The first year was at St. Joseph's in Hartley. This year's celebration was an
outdoor picnic at St. Anthony's in Primghar.
"The turn out was very high from all four parishes and there was a
wonderful spirit among the people," said Father McKane.
According to Father McKane, all of the parishes have a lot in common to begin
with. They are able to bring their resources together, not only priest and
secretary, but also music, teaching and working with youth.
"We all benefit," said Father McKane. "I think we have a first
rate program for our youth here with activities planned. We wouldn't do it
without drawing on people from all four parishes to help - adults and
The religious education program is coordinated for all four parishes but
broken into two programs at St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's. Teachers and parents
from all four parishes help out with the classes.
All of the high school youth ministry programs are clustered together and
coordinated by Kelly O'Brien. Throughout the year O'Brien plans different
activities for the youth of the Union cluster.
Activities that the youth participate in on a yearly basis include a hayrack
ride and bonfire, diocesan youth rally in Carroll, collecting food for the food
pantry, Christmas caroling for shut-ins, Youth 2000, skiing, service projects,
year-end dinner, mission trip to Mexico, Steubenville conference and Bible on
the beach. These activities are above and beyond the usual monthly youth group
meetings according to O'Brien.
"The meetings really are well attended," said O'Brien. "A lot
of times it is different kids at different things, depending if they can get off
work and come."
The youth group meetings for the next year will be held on Sunday nights in
Sanborn. The other activities will move between the four different towns.
"I think we get along very well as a cluster," said Nancy Williams,
DRE and parishioner at St. Joseph's in Hartley. "It is a good blending of
the four parishes."
Another aspect that the four parishes share in is that there is one cluster
pastoral council and one finance council for all four. Parishioners from each
parish serve on the cluster council. The council elections for all four parishes
and cluster councils are coming up.
"That's important," said Father McKane. "The decisions are
made on those two councils. Almost all of our business is conducted at the
cluster level. When decisions deal with their own building of the four different
buildings, then they have a local parish council to deal with that."
Carnahan noted that she has finished putting together a Union Faith Community
directory. She combined all four directories into one that will be a picture
directory. Pictures are planned to be taken in November. She added that the
directories would most likely be finished at the beginning of 2005.
The next planned cluster event is a canoe trip that is coming up soon and
parishioners can find out more in the bulletin.