Today, the Boston Pilot published a summary of the proposal by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission, entitled, “Disciples in Mission.” This is the plan for a new parish staffing and pastoral leadership model in the Boston Archdiocese. The summary was released with a note stating, “each of the proposal’s recommendations involves detailed sub-recommendations that aren’t included below, so we encourage everyone to read the full proposal document.”
The full report is available online at http://www.Planning2012.com/APPCproposal. BCI has read the full report and has plenty of comments to make, but we will hold back for this moment to just share the summary.
Part One: Recommendations for strengthening parishes for the work of the New Evangelization
1. That the 288 parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston be organized into approximately 135 Parish Collaboratives, these collaboratives consisting usually of two or three parishes, but sometimes only one, and, in rare occasion’s four parishes.
2. That the formation of the parish collaboratives be phased in, with appropriate flexibility, over a period of five years.
3. That the parishes of each collaborative be assigned one single Pastor.
4. That the pastor form the staff members serving the parishes of the collaborative into a Pastoral Team.
5. That the multiple Parish Pastoral Councils of the parishes in a collaborative become one parish council to assist the one pastor in fostering pastoral activity and in guiding the mission of the Church in each parish and in the parish collaborative.
6. That, if possible in accord with the norms of Canon Law, the benefits and advantages of collaboration be extended to Parish Finance Councils, such that one finance council serves the one pastor to assist him in the financial administration of the parishes and the parish collaborative.
7. That the pastor, pastoral team, and councils of each parish collaborative participate in extensive theological and practical training for the New Evangelization.
8. That, given this major reorientation of the mission of the Archdiocese towards the New Evangelization, the staff at the Pastoral Center and other Central Ministry staff will also benefit from the training necessary to help them understand what the New Evangelization is, what their role is for the New Evangelization, and the ways in which the offices of the Pastoral Center should effectively assist the pastoral teams in strengthening the work of evangelization in their collaboratives.
9. That the parish collaboratives receive the support they need to become successful collaboratives.
10. That each collaborative be required to develop a pastoral plan for the collaborative within eight to twelve months of the inauguration of the collaborative.
11. That the Archbishop utilize multiple means of communication to introduce Disciples in Mission to the people and parishes of the Archdiocese as an important foundation for the mission of evangelization and to place this part of the plan in the context of the life and work of the Church in Boston.
12. That further work, coordinated by the Pastoral Planning Office (PPO), be completed on several particularly important issues that have been foremost in the Commission’s deliberations, including parish collaboratives; Catholic schools; staff transitions; religious institutes, religious priests, and other non-incardinated priests; non-parochial pastoral services; parochial vicars; and strengthening the roles of regional vicar and vicar forane.
Part Two: Recommendations for strengthening the work of the New Evangelization in parishes
A. Recommendations for Re-energizing Pastoral Leadership for the Task of Evangelization
1. That the Office of the Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization (EVNE), the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) and the Pastoral Planning Office of the Archdiocese of Boston (PPO) come together in a partnership to provide the training required for the full implementation of Disciples in Mission.
2. That at the conclusion of Phase One of the implementation, the Archdiocese hire four staff members, the Pastoral Planning Training Team (PPTT). The PPTT will follow CLI through their processes, learn from them their methods and resources, and assume responsibility for the CLI portion of the training at the end of two years. In this way, CLI will “train the trainers” for Phases Three and Four and for ongoing training and support.
3. That EVNE, with the assistance of PPO, conduct an extensive consultation of the people of the Archdiocese of Boston, focusing on best practices for evangelization. This consultation will begin with a survey of the pastors and then have two additional rounds in the regions of the Archdiocese, making extensive use of technology to involve as many people as possible. The Catholic Media Group will provide technology support for this effort.
4. That the training itself have six stages in the first phase of implementation. Stage One will be for the Staff of the Pastoral Center and other Central Ministries Personnel. Stage Two will be for the Pastors leading the collaboratives. Stage Three will be for Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Finance Council membership. Stage Four will be for Pastoral Team members. Stage Five will be for each Pastoral Team. Stage Six will be for the Pastoral Team and several council members of each collaborative.
5. That at the completion of their training, each participant receive a certificate from the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization (TINE). Throughout the process, TINE will also provide team and council members with information about opportunities for ongoing formation and education.
6. That concurrent with the training program in the recommendations above, EVNE provide extensive programming for all of the parishes and people of the Archdiocese of Boston that does not fall within the structure of the training program, with a particular emphasis during the first year on events associated with the Year of Faith.
B. Recommendations for Strengthening Youth and Adult Faith Formation for the Task of Evangelization
1. The commission recommends the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the Religious Education Task Force, which addressed the religious education of our youth in parishes and in schools, and the Committee to Study Lay Formation Programs, which addressed adult faith formation in the Archdiocese. (The reports of these two groups are attached as appendices to this pastoral plan).
2. That the archdiocesan offices responsible for implementing the recommendations from these 2 groups, provide an immediate report to Cardinal Seán that: identifies the recommendations that have been successfully implemented; and indicates the plans, timelines and needed funding to secure the implementation of the remaining recommendations.
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The plan clearly reflects feedback from the consultation process. It has gotten stronger in the area of evangelization. At least there is no longer the “circular firing squad” concept where pastors are all automatically removed from their current roles. In the humble opinion of BCI, some aspects of the plan seem to have merit and some aspects do not feel totally baked. We will elaborate more separately, but for now we put this out and invite your thoughts.