St. Bartholomew, Holy Trinity to link for area Catholic ministry efforts

St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Columbus and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Edinburgh will link for some ministry efforts as part of a restructuring in the 39-county Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archbishop Joseph Tobin announced at a Thursday press conference in Columbus.

A parish life coordinator, an administrative leader, will replace Holy Trinity’s pastor by July, and then St. Bartholomew clergy will lead sacramental services — such as Masses, weddings, baptisms and funerals — at the Edinburgh parish, archdiocese spokesman Greg Otolski said.

The Rev. Steven Schaftlein, pastor of Holy Trinity, said the teaming “is what we asked for.”

Schaftlein said 200 people in total attend two weekend Masses at the Edinburgh parish. However, more than 4,000 in total attend four weekend services at St. Bartholomew, which went through its own restructuring when it merged in 1994 with the former St. Columba Parish before that sanctuary was razed in 2001.

The moves are part of the archdiocese’s Connected in the Spirit initiative to make better use of resources, staff and other elements, Tobin said.

Representatives from 31 parishes in Bloomington, Columbus and Seymour deaneries had been meeting for 15 months about a variety of changes.

Although members of Brownstown’s Our Lady of Providence were upset with a decision to merge that church with Seymour’s larger St. Ambrose Catholic Church, leaders of St. Bartholomew and Holy Trinity both seemed pleased with the announcement.

However, St. Bartholomew associate pastor Rev. Andy Syberg said it’s too early to tell all the ways the linking will affect many of the two churches’ ministries.

He spoke for St. Bartholomew because the Rev. Clem Davis, pastor, was out of town.

“Church is an organic thing,” said Syberg, a newly ordained priest who came on staff at St. Bartholomew seven months ago. “It continues to grow and change.”

Syberg said St. Bartholomew’s size — the largest single church body in Bartholomew County for weekend service attendance — should have little impact on Holy Trinity’s actual ministry other than to help it in whatever ways its members may seek.

“Jesus started with only 12 people,” Syberg said.

Schaftlein said he hoped sharing resources “could enhance the status of ministry at Holy Trinity.”

Specifically, the Edinburgh pastor said he felt St. Bartholomew’s influence and experience could help Holy Trinity expand its Hispanic ministry that includes a monthly service attracting 60 to 100 people. St. Bartholomew offers a larger, weekly Hispanic Mass in Columbus.

“We all will act in faith and love,” Schaftlein said.

Each church will continue to maintain its separate identity, character and Mass schedules, Schaftlein said.

Connected in the Spirit began in 2008. This latest move began 15 months ago in which separate parish members, lay leaders and clergy were deeply involved from the beginning, Tobin said.

“These are not from-the-top-down decisions,” he said.

A tale of two churches

Name: St. Bartholomew Catholic Church.

Where: 1306 27th St., Columbus.

Weekend services attendance: 4,000.

Information: 812-379-9353 or saintbartholomew.org.

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Name: Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

Where: 100 Keeley St., Edinburgh.

Weekend services attedance: 200, plus as many as 100 for an additional monthly Hispanic service.

Information: 812-526-9460.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.