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On March 30th, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein and Council of Priests of the Archdiocese approved the establishment of a new parish in northern Johnson County. Father Steve Jarrell was named the first pastor of this new parish to be named SAINTS FRANCIS & CLARE. In September, the boundaries of this new parish were legally established. In October, the first Mass was held at the home of Mike and Donna Austgen on the Feast of St. Francis. The first regular Sunday Mass was held in the cafeteria of Center Grove Middle School on November 28th. The large crowd forced the site to be moved to the gymnasium of the school.
In March, Father Steve was installed as pastor by Archbishop Buechlein. The 15- member Planning Committee was commissioned and held its first meeting March 24th, creating several task groups to address needs in the areas of real estate, finances, youth, religious education and welcoming new members. The Parish House was purchased to be used as a residence for Fr. Steve, parish offices and meeting rooms. The house was remodeled during August and September. On September 25, the first parish picnic was held at the Center Grove Resort; the parish house being dedicated the same day. In October the first training session for liturgical ministers was held and the Sunday morning religious education program (grades 1-8) began. Archbishop Buechlein approved the purchase of twenty six acres of land at the southeast corner of the intersection of Olive Branch and Mullinix Roads upon which the church was to be built.
In mid January, Fr. Steve and the Planning Committee appointed the Facilities Committee, which was charged with the task of planning and coordinating the construction of the Church and its supporting structures. In August, the architectural firm of Woollen, Molzan and Partners was selected. The first Pastoral Council election was held in November.
In March, the Parish kicked off its Founders' Campaign, Saints Francis & Clare's first formal capital campaign. In May, site preparation began at the Parish's Building site. Archbishop Buechlein and Father Steve celebrated the Groundbreaking Mass at the site on June 23rd. In August, Bob Navarre was hired as Construction Manager for the building project. By December, the architects had presented the plans for the new Parish facilities to the parishioners.
The cornerstone of the Church was blessed on April 13th followed in August on the Feast Day of St. Clare, by the Dedication Mass and the Blessing and Sealing of a Time Capsule at the site. In October, the first ceremony, St. Francis "Transitus", was held in the newly completed church. The official Dedication of SS Francis & Clare Catholic Church was held on October 5, 1997 presided over by Archbishop Buechlein and Father Steve. Later that year the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was brought here for veneration.
The first Parish Mission was held in March. On April 18th, parishioners volunteered for the first Spring Clean-up, Planting and Landscaping Day. Also in April, twenty-five children received their First Communion. Father Steve celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Ordination on May 17th with Mass and a Reception in the new church hall. By November, the number of registered families had increased to approximately 450.
This year saw an increase in membership to over 550 families. Father Steve Jarrell announced that he would remain pastor for another six years. The Building and Grounds committee continued with the landscaping of the property with trees and shrubs most of which were donated by parishioners and friends of the parish. The creation of a Meditation Garden was begun. The youth of the parish traveled to Appalachia on a Mission. In the Fall, parishioners brought their pets to Church for the annual Pet Blessing.
The year of the Great Jubilee. A pilgrimage was made to St. Meinrad in August. We had an Archdiocesan-wide Eucharist Celebration in September. During the Mass over 3,000 people were confirmed. Baptismal promises were renewed. Saint Francis & Clare had many parishioners participating and volunteering in the grand celebration. We hosted our first seminarian this summer. Our membership continues to grow to 600 families.
This was a year of firsts: the first triplets to be baptized, the largest group to participate in the RCIA, the first Mass of Remembrance (Feb. 14), the first Reverse Raffle Dinner sponsored by the Men's Club, and the inauguration of the men's and women's retreat movement: Christ Renews His Parish. We suffered the loss of a Music Director from January through June, but volunteers stepped forward superbly and a new director was hired during the summer. The Day Care Ministry continues to grow. The parish hosted international speaker Matthew Kelly twice during the fall. The evangelization ministry "Disciples in Ministry" was begun. The parish house was sold and construction began on a new rectory. Wednesday adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began in August. Parish membership continues to grow at nearly 700 families.
Construction of our new rectory was completed in the spring, and a dedication and Open House was held in May. The Adult Faith Formation Committee sponsored a pilgrimage to Gesthemane and the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Bardstown, Kentucky. In their inaugural year, our Girls' CYO Basketball Team won the Division Championship. Our membership continues to grow to over 670 families.
This year has been a year of continued growth. We welcomed our second pastor to our parish. Fr. Vince Lampert was installed by Archbishop Buechlein in August. The committees and ministries of our parish continue to flourish. Our Parish Nurse Ministry started up this year and our Mom's Club published their first cookbook. The parish published its third pictorial directory. This year's pilgrimage was to the National Shine of St. Therese of Lisieux. Parish membership continues to increase to over 720 families.
This year was another year of continued growth for the parish. In March our Parish Nurse Ministry offered our first Health Fair. Testing and information was given to over 150 people. To accommodate our parish growth we added 72 parking spaces and additional pews for the sanctuary which will seat an additional 150 people. This was the first year our parish picnic was held on parish grounds. We have entered the age of the World Wide Web by offering a web site at www.ssfc.org . This year's pilgrimage was to Italy where many parishioners and friends toured many shrines of Italy. Our membership continues to grow to 825 families.
A School Steering Committee was formed to assess the parish's need and desire for an elementary school. An intensive feasibility study was conducted and it was determined to proceed with a school ministry and a parish building and expansion project. We implemented the Legacy for Our Mission: Touching Tomorrow Today capital campaign and raised a record $2.3 million. This was a year of reorganization for our committees and ministries as we implemented the Archdiocese Commission structure for parishes. Mass of Anointing began as a monthly opportunity for parishioners to receive the sacrament of anointing for physical, emotional or spiritual healing. Parish membership continues to increase as we grow to 860 families.
The year began with the kick-off of our new Wednesday night Bible Study program. We cleared the parish calendar of all meetings in an attempt to offer all parishioners the opportunity to "make your faith come alive". At the end of January, our pastor, Fr. Vince Lampert left on a sabbatical to Rome. He finished up in May and met a group from SSFC as they headed out on a parish pilgrimage to the area of Scenic Alpine Europe. Our Building Committee continued to meet to plan the design and construction of our expansion project. We celebrated with the ground breaking of our new Assisi Center on July 9th. During the summer we hosted our second seminarian and in the fall we were assigned a temporary associate pastor, Fr. Mike Onwuegbuzie from Nigeria. In August our School Ministry opened with two classes, Kindergarten and 1st grade. They began meeting in the existing classroom space. As our parish continues to grow so does the involvement in our 62 committees and ministries. Our parish membership increased to 958 families.
This year was a year of growth and expansion. On January 28 Archbishop Daniel Buechlein came to dedicate the new Assisi Education Center. The School Ministry moved in and finished up the school year in the new classrooms while Religious Education and other ministries also used the space. We held our first annual Parish Festival in September. The success of this event was attributed to the wonderful weather and the over 500 parishioners who volunteered their time to help. As our CYO program continues to grow we constructed a football/soccer field on the parish grounds. Fr. Vince blessed the field before the football games on October 7. The parish membership grew to over 1000 families. The year ended with 1004 registered households.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis ordained the first class of permanent deacons on June 28. Parishioners Ron Reimer and Steve Hodges were in this class. Deacon Steve is assigned at St. Rose of Lima and Deacon Ron is assigned at Saints Francis & Clare. Our Adult Faith Formation continues to offer ways to grow in your faith with weekly Bible study and Sunday morning Adult Fellowship. An outdoor Stations of the Cross prayer walk was constructed on the east end of the parish grounds. This year's pilgrimage traveled to Spain, Portugal, and France. Our School Ministry has grown to include classes for Pre K thru 3rd grade. It held our 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off which gave parish families an opportunity to come together and share their favorite recipe. The number of parish families grew to 1115.
While the number of families, committees, and ministries continue to grow so do our facilities. We expanded the seating in the church by 130 seats by moving the back walls and installing additional chairs and pews. A ground breaking ceremony took place on October 4 as our second major expansion project got underway. The construction of new parking, additional classroom/meeting space, a cafeteria, and parish life center are in the works. Our Religious Education and School Ministry combined for our largest First Eucharistic class which consisted of 82 children. Our boys 5/6 grade CYO basketball team brought home a city championship. Our parish membership increased to over 1200 families.