CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
For a parish that is looking to ramp up its evangelization efforts – something that will require top-notch communication skills – St. Robert Bellarmine in Union Grove seems uniquely positioned to take on that challenge.
The parish administrator since July 2016, Fr. Russ Arnett, has a background in advertising, working on some national campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s.
In addition, the parish has a prominent location on the border of Union Grove along Highway 45, right across the street from the community’s high school.
Arnett said he plans to leverage some of those advantages and will look to hire a youth minister who has a strong enough background they can not only do ministry for the youth of the parish, but beyond as well.
“There’s a lot of unchurched kids in that school that I think are primed and ready for a spiritual experience,” Fr. Arnett said. “They are seeking at some level.”
Appropriately for a parish that is looking to rev up its communications, St. Robert Bellarmine’s first Masses were held in the offices of the local Wisconsin Bell Phone Company in 1965.
Before the formation of the parish, residents of Union Grove attended St. Mary in Dover.
However, post-war growth and the anticipation of an Air Force base in Brighton (which was never built and became the Bong Recreation Area) brought the need for a new parish.
The currently building has been in place since 1967.
Today, St. Robert Bellarmine is part of a four-parish cluster, along with St. Mary in Dover, and St. Francis Xavier and St. John the Baptist in Kenosha County.
The increased collaboration and blending of those four parishes has been one of the biggest projects of Fr. Arnett’s tenure.
“It’s hard to talk about St. Robert without talking about St. Mary, St. Francis and St. John,” Fr. Arnett said. “The thing that’s been happening the last two and a half years is the collaborative piece of bringing together four parishes, uniting them in ministry and identity. In less than two years, we were able to bring together a pastoral advisory council that serves all four parishes.”
In addition to the call to evangelization that is common to all Catholics, the four parishes Fr. Arnett serves are keeping a watchful eye on the Foxconn development, which if developed to all of the company’s promises, could bring an influx of working-class families. The parish sits just 4 miles from the Foxconn site.
“We’re keeping our eye on it and preparing ourselves to be the best parishes we can be,” Fr. Arnett said. “We’ve got good education programs, we’ve got good formation programs for all ages, good liturgy, great music and great worship, and (we have) to be ready when that happens.”
PLAN A VISIT
St. Robert Bellarmine
3320 S. Colony Ave.
Union Grove, WI 53182
Saturday: 4:30 p.m. Vigil Mass
Sunday: 10 a.m.
WHO WAS ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE?
- Born at Montepulciano, Italy, St. Robert Bellarmine (Oct. 4, 1542-1621) was the third of 10 children. His mother, Cinzia Cervini, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification of the body.
- Robert entered the newly formed Society of Jesus in 1560 and after his ordination went on to teach at Louvain (1570-76), where he became famous for his Latin sermons. In 1576, he was appointed to the chair of controversial theology at the Roman College, becoming Rector in 1592; he went on to become Provincial of Naples in 1594 and Cardinal in 1598.
- This outstanding scholar and devoted servant of God defended the Apostolic See against the anti-clericals in Venice and against the political tenets of James I of England. He composed an exhaustive apologetic work against the prevailing heretics of his day. In the field of church-state relations, he took a position based on principles now regarded as fundamentally democratic – authority originates with God, but is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers.
- This saint was the spiritual father of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, helped St. Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order, and in his prudence opposed severe action in the case of Galileo.