Partners In The Gospel



A message from Fr. Phuong: 

It’s my solemn duty as the outgoing Pastor of St. Gabriel, Port Orchard and Prince of Peace, Belfair Parishes, now belonging to a New Parish Family #52 which includes St. Nicholas, Gig Harbor, to inform you about the
New Mass Schedule for our Parish Family effective on the last weekend of June 29 & 30, 2024: 
Red Indicates Change

Parish Saturday    Sunday 
Prince of Peace  No Vigil Mass   930a-1030a 1130a-1230p (Spanish)  1p-2p (Spanish) 
St. Gabriel  5p-6p    8a-9a  11a-12p   
St. Nicholas  5p-6p    9a-10a  11a-12p   

How did we get here? 

Praise be to God, we currently do not have to make more drastic changes.  Fr. Ron Belisle, a Senior/Retired priest who has supported our community for several years has recommitted to support us for as long as he can. We have also been blessed to have and extern priest Fr. Jose Hernandez, agree to support our Spanish Masses.  

These agreements, however, are temporary. We do not know how long Fr. Ron will be able to continue and the Diocese of Spokane could call back Fr. Jose at any time.  

While we have secured these temporary agreements, it was also my duty as the outgoing pastor, to review our current mass scenarios and develop a sustainable model that ‘only the two assigned priests to family #52 could physically manage. Namely Fr. Mark Guzman, your new incoming pastor and Fr. Phil Raether, your incoming parochial vicar. That is just two priests to preside at all the masses at 3 churches. As you well know, this was challenging endeavor for me to do for St. Gabriel and Prince of Peace alone, even with assistance from Fr. Ron Belisle and Fr. Pat McDermott.   

How can two priests sustainably handle the 10 weekend masses at all three locations? Simply put, they can’t.  

In working to develop a sustainable “Two Priest Only Model”, I partnered with key staff and leadership, consulted with our Pastoral and Finance Councils, and of course Fr. Mark. We weighed and considered a multitude of factors and unfortunately difficult decisions had to be made, which includ eliminating and combining masses. (Examples of model scenarios are on the next page.) 

What did we consider? 

Logistical Parameters - Guidance from the Archdiocese: 

  • Priests should serve no more than 2 masses per day. Except in extreme situations. 
  • If a priest must travel from one church to another there must be a minimum of 2-hours between masses. More depending on geographic distance. 
  • What are the Mass Counts / Attendance for each current mass time? 
  • What is each Church’s seating capacity? 
  • Can we combine or eliminate a Mass or Masses? 
  • Can we minimize priest movement between physical locations? 
  • Can we move Masses to different locations? 
    • E.g. Combine the 2 Spanish Masses at Prince of Peace and move to St. Gabriel. 
  • What is the plan when a Priest gets sick or needs to take a vacation. 
    • Who is available to substitute? 
    • If none, what do we do? Communion Service?

Parishioner Feedback over the years:  

  • Vigil masses are too late in the day. 
    • Especially during the wintertime when it’s too dark to drive. 
  • We do not have enough volunteers to assist in the mass.  
    • Liturgical ministers like Sacristans, Altar Servers, EMs etc. 
  • There are so many empty pews. 
  • Priests are often late to confession or Mass. 
    • Confession/Reconciliation time slot is too short. 
    • Priest cannot see every parishioner in a half hour window. 

 Much was considered during this process.  Should the time come when Fr. Ron and or Fr. Jose can no longer serve, what will we do? This is a reality that other parish families are having to face now as they do not have such agreements. It’s a reality that we need to be prepared for. Here are a couple examples of those scenarios: 

 As I leave you in the care of your new Pastor, Fr. Mark Guzman, I implore you to pray for the success of this Partners in the Gospel Strategic Plan. These changes were not easy for me to put in place, and I know it may present challenges for you. Call upon the Holy Spirit to grant us all patience, wisdom and understanding as we press forward in this journey.  

Christ’s Peace, 
Fr. Phuong Hoang 

Pastor & Vicar Assignments Announced
Effective July 1, 2024


At the present time we share that we are trying to do all we can to ‘minimize’ and 'delay' change. If we can secure some “Temporary” arrangements with external and/or retired priests, this will help. However, the reality is that our parish family has only been officially assigned TWO PRIESTS to shepherd our community of three church’s.


We currently have 9 out of 10 masses that conflict with each other making it physically impossible to keep as is. So, change unfortunately, will be necessary even if we are able to delay it.
At some point we must consider what is “Sustainable” in the long term.

Along with only having two priests.  A couple other technicalities come into play.

  • Priests should serve no more than 2 masses per day. Except in extreme situations.
  • If a priest has to travel from one church to another, there should be a minimum of two hours between masses.
    • More depending on geographic distance.

So how can two priests manage this? They Cant. It’s just not physically possible. Change is necessary.
Fr. Phuong, your Pastoral Council, key lay leaders of the church and key staff members are engaging to put together workable options.

Considering the parameters noted above, we are having to look at several things to accomplish this.

  • What is the Mass Count / Attendance for each current mass time.
    • What is each Church’s capacity?
  • Can we combine or eliminate a Mass or Masses?
  • Can we minimize priest movement between physical locations?
  • Can we move Masses to different locations?
    • E.g. Prince of Peace Mass(es) move to St. Gabriel.
  • What is the plan when a Priest gets sick or needs to take a vacation.
    • Who is available to substitute?
    • If none, what do we do? Communion Service?
  • How does this impact the Body of Christ?
    • How do we manage and maneuver through this challenging time?

These along with other factors are being considered. This is not an easy change to plan for, but it is a reality we must face. We must prepare for the day when our church family will only have our two priests at the ready.  As mentioned, we are doing all we can to minimize and possibly delay some changes, but understand, as sad and as painful this will be…Change is Necessary.

Remember the goal of Partners in the Gospel is to Re Envision the Church so we can better live out our Gospel Mission. We have to address some restructuring in the beginning which includes, sharing of resources from staff to priests to buildings. This is just the first step that then turns too how we will operate as a parish family.

We will keep your posted with any concrete changes that become official.
Below are EXAMPLES of What we are working on.

February 10, 2024 - Update
Final Parish Families Announced

Next Steps

  • Early April, will be the announcement of our new Pastor and Parochial Vicars.

    • Every parish family will be assigned one Pastor and at least one Vicar, which is an assistant priest, to assist with serving mass and performing other duties assigned by the pastor.

  • July 1st is the official day we begin working together and towards becoming a ‘canonical’ parish family.

    • This is intentionally designed to be a slow process that allows for each community to learn about each other, and over time and with participation from leadership and parishioners, begin to develop plans and processes to reach that goal. This journey is anticipated to take three years. Some families will take less time and others more.

  • Today and onward, let us all keep the process, our church family, and our parishioners, in our prayers. That this journey may be as smooth as possible and when we hit the bumps in the road that are sure to come, we move with trust in the Holy Spirit, asking for patience, understanding, and a spirit of collaboration.

    • Pastors, Church leaders, and staff will be introduced over the next several months to our ‘Parish Family Liaisons’ who are Archdiocese-assigned partners that will help families along this journey.

      • We will also be receiving and reviewing the Partners in the Gospel, playbook that provides, steps and strategies to help us move forward towards our goal.

Have Questions about Partners in the Gospel Click the button below for answers.




Click HERE to read Archbishop Etienne's Letter


Understanding Why. On Monday, June 5th our Archdiocese published the Current Reality Report. This report provides a snapshot of the archdiocese today and outlines data and trends as well as forecasts demographic changes over the next decade. It also outlines the urgent need for change and why we must reinvision parish life.


(It is under the heading - UNDERSTANDING WHY)

For The Main Archdiocese of Seattle's Partners in the Gospel Webpage click this logo

January 22, 2023, marked the public launch of The Partners in the Gospel Strategic Pastoral Plan. This a plan introduced to all parishes within the Archdiocese of Seattle. Watch and Listen to Father Phuong's Homily and Message. This is a clip of the Homily and the Archdiocese Video on Partners in the Gospel.

Let us UNITE all our concerns, our anxieties, our hopes, and our dreams by adding the Partners In the Gospel Prayer to our regular prayer routines.