St. Leo to cluster with Sacred Heart


Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Jesuits West Provincial Scott Santarosa, SJ agreed to cluster St. Leo with Sacred Heart Parish under the newly assigned Fr. Matt Holland, SJ. Sacred Heart is a predominantly Latino parish located 3.6 miles from St. Leo. The formal clustering process will begin the Fall of 2019 to be completed by the summer of 2020. Listening sessions and dialogue will be held throughout the Fall of 2018 to the summer of 2019 in preparation for the formal clustering process, which will be led by a team from the Archdiocese of Seattle. 

 The Spanish-speaking community is one of the fastest growing communities within the Church. This decision to cluster was made because the Archdiocese of Seattle is in need of bilingual priests who can serve this community well. The Jesuits West Province not only has Spanish-speaking priests, but has an explicit commitment to serve migrant and marginalized communities in multicultural and multilingual settings, particularly Hispanic communities. Jesuits West agreed to expand its ministry to include Sacred Heart.

The St. Leo and Sacred Heart communities will have the opportunity to discern what this partnership looks like. Representatives of the two communities will gather to pray and discuss in an effort to uncover the specific ways the Spirit is beckoning us to form one community. At this time there are no particulars on how staffing, resources, or programming will be impacted. 

In more transition news, Fr. Alan Yost, SJ will be leaving St. Leo parish to serve in Ireland. Fr. Elias Puentes, SJ will be assigned to St. Leo and join the community in January. 

Fr. Steve Lantry offered a reflection to the community when he delivered the news on June 2/3. You can listen to his reflection below. The printed text is also provided. Fr. Matt Holland will begin his ministry at St. Leo on August 1. 


Address to Parish Community
June 2-3, 2018

In the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God tells us that “God’s ways are not our ways & God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.”  And in the Gospels, Jesus says about the wind of the Spirit, “It blows where it will; you do not know where it comes from and you do not know where it is going.”  We know these things to be true, but we forget, especially in a long period of stability when life seems fairly predictable.  Well, the wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing; we think we know that it’s coming from the archbishop and the Jesuit provincial, and we know that it’s blowing toward this clustering arrangement.  But what the shape of that relationship will be, and how we will actually get there is not at all clear right now.  Nor does it need to be.

In the Jesuits we use words like “sent” and “assigned” and “attached” with regard to communities and apostolic works.  But the really accurate and appropriate word is “mission”; the provincial superior missions us, sends us on mission, to work for the sake of the kingdom in a particular place, in and for a particular community.  So, one provincial missioned me to this community in 2003, and now another provincial is missioning me to the parish community in Missoula, MT.  And so, there is a parting, a necessary separation; and such things often make us sad, can cause grief and other difficult feelings as well----even as we experience gratitude, joy, remembrance, and blessing.  I have all these feelings almost every day now.  They remind me of how wonderful it is to be a human being, and how we are always being called into relationship with each other, and what a constant gift that is.

When I first came here, I discovered that the gathering, the church, at St. Leo (to use an expression from the Book of Revelation) had a “presiding spirit”, a spirit that guides the community and gives it its very special and particular character.  To use a biblical name, I would call it a spirit of hospitality, of welcome, of inclusion, rooted in the desire to invite all folks to feel at home, especially at the table, and to make this community their home.  Another way of describing this spirit is as one of “presence”, a spirit that helps us to BE present to each other, and especially to others who are in need.  We try to be present to needs right here.

To offer this gift to others is not as simple and straightforward as we may have first thought.  We have had to find our way, haven’t we?  We are still finding our way.  And it turns out that the poets are right: “We make our path by walking on it.”  We discover where God is and to what God is calling us by moving toward God.  Remember, the word “easter” is a nautical term meaning to “sail toward the light”.  Seeking God’s will for us is the task of moving toward the light.

When we began to talk about transition last year, we thought it would be completed by this coming fall.  We were wrong; and it’s now become clear that the Spirit has something else in mind for us.  It will take us more or less time to discover how we feel about this prospect, how we’re going to participate or not in this process.  And so, this very particular moment is a moment of flux, of disturbance, an unsettling moment.  Many spiritual masters have written about what happens to individuals and to communities when life becomes more unstable and unpredictable.  Even though the Holy Spirit is always busy trying to lead us closer to each other and to God, other unfriendly spirits get just as busy.  But they use different tools, like fear, suspicion, rash judgment, selfishness, secrecy, and gossip in order to separate us from others.  These tactics are always the same, and their end is always the same: to divide and to destroy.

This community is now invited to enter into a new process of hospitality, welcome, and inclusion.  This process has a generous two-year timeline, and it will change the community.  It will demand a widening of perspective, a broadening of understanding, and most of all, what St. Ignatius of Loyola calls grande animo, a magnanimity of heart, a greatness of spirit.  Even as this is a very real challenge, it is also a tremendous gift, an opportunity to trust God in new ways, confident that that same God wishes us only good.

Jesus does not call us servants; he calls us friends, and so we are, and so we shall remain friends in the Lord.  As friends of each other in Jesus, I urge you to begin making this new path by walking it-----full of trust, full of hope, full of gratitude, knowing that the presiding Spirit of the church of St. Leo accompanies you every step of the way.


Matt holland