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<  Discussion  ~  Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Planning Committee Report

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:43 pm Reply with quote
Posts: 92 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:29 pm

The above report was finished in May but just recently approved by the Cardinal. It is a very frank look at the situation the Archdiocese faces in terms of pastoral planning. Since we just barely survived the recent round of reconfiguration closings, it behooves us to be aware that even more dramatic changes will be coming in the next few years. The report calls for the involvement of all (clergy, staff, laity) in the planning for how to shape the Archdiocese in light of the practical realities.
The PPC is starting to discuss this document, with a specific focus on what we as a parish community can do in the face of certain structural changes in the Archdiocese over the next 3-6 years.

We would hope to generate some discussion of this outside of the PPC meetings using this topic.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:53 pm Reply with quote
Posts: 92 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:29 pm
1. Salem News, "As priest numbers sag, North Shore Catholics..."
By Tom Dalton | October 17, 2007

PEABODY - North Shore Catholic lay leaders and clergy met here last
night behind closed doors to begin planning for a future with fewer
priests. They hope to start early in order to avoid the kind of crisis
that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston three years ago when churches were
forced to close.

"There is no appetite, is no plan, and no one is even talking about
closing any more parishes," said Monsignor Paul Garrity of Lynn, the
vicar for this region. "That is not an issue. That is not on the table
right now."

Garrity called a meeting last night at St. John the Baptist Church for
pastors, as well as parish council and finance committee members from
Salem and Peabody. A similar meeting was held Monday night for churches
in Lynn, Marblehead, Swampscott and Nahant.

The meetings are a first response, Garrity said, to a report issued last
spring urging church leaders to begin planning for the challenges
created by the priest shortage.

"The report calls for us in the diocese to establish a culture of
planning," he said. "... We all need to think about the realities that
we face today and where those realities are leading us tomorrow."

One reality is the dwindling number of priests. Today, there are 365
priests working in the Boston Archdiocese's 295 parishes, according to a
planning report presented last spring to Cardinal Sean O'Malley. In
eight years, only 212 priests will be available for parish ministry -
fewer than one per parish.

Without careful planning involving all members of the church, the
archdiocese faces "a continuing series of parish closings resulting
especially from staffing limitations and financial problems," the report
stated. "It will also face the hurt and anger accompanying such

No decisions have been made about the future, said Garrity, whose
vicariate includes half of the North Region of the Archdiocese of
Boston. All decisions will come from Cardinal Sean O'Malley after input
from a variety of individuals, committees and sources. The meetings on
the North Shore this week are merely the start of discussions in this
region on a subject the whole archdiocese must address.

Two local priests said they are encouraged that the church is looking at
ways to remain strong despite the priest shortage, and they are
confident that religious and lay leaders working together can find

"This is an opportunity to look toward the future and see how we can
help one another and build up one another," said the Rev. John Sheridan,
pastor of St. James Church in Salem.

The Rev. Michael Steele, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in
Marblehead, is one of the 15 people who drafted the pastoral planning
report. He said the report discusses models being tried around the
country for serving one or more parishes with fewer priests.

"These are just ideas to start looking at," he said.

Whatever the model chosen, priests will need to develop greater
leadership skills, recruit more lay leaders and share resources with
other parishes, Steele said.

The goal of this planning process, he said, is to bring about "a more
vibrant faith life ... with the numbers we have ..."

Locally, several churches are already finding ways to do more with fewer

In Lynn, St. Mary Regional High School hired a lay leader as head of the
school to assume the role Garrity, as pastor, had held. The parish also
hired a married woman with two children as a pastoral associate.

At Steele's parish in Marblehead, lay leaders spoke at Mass about the
need to give more at the Sunday collections. Collections have almost
doubled in three years.

"We did this with planning and committees and showing (parishioners)
where the money is going," Steele said.

The priest shortage can be a crisis, Garrity said, but a crisis that can
be averted with planning.

"A crisis can be a real opportunity." he said.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:01 pm Reply with quote
Posts: 92 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:29 pm
Rosario Rizzo brought this article to my attention: ... ughts.html


PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:32 pm Reply with quote
Posts: 5 Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2004 10:56 pm
This is an article from the Pilot about 3 priests serving 5 parishes in the Nashoba Valley cluster (Ashby, Ayer, Groton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend)

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:52 pm Reply with quote
Posts: 92 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:29 pm
Lowell Sun, "Merger of Groton, Pepperell parishes an option"
By Hiroko Sato
February 12, 2009

GROTON -- Could Catholics in Groton and Pepperell be attending Mass
together every Sunday in the near future?

That could happen, according to the Archdiocese of Boston. But the
archdiocese says recent reports of the possibility of two parishes --
Sacred Heart-St. James in Groton and St. Joseph Church in Pepperell --
is just one potential option for the local churches and may not ever

"The best thing that could happen right now is for everyone to step
back, take a deep breath and allow the process to move along," said
Terrance Donilon, secretary of communications for the Archdiocese of
The leaders of the Parish of Sacred Heart-St. James in Groton and St.
Joseph Church in Pepperell are having ongoing discussions about the
churches' future.

Six years ago, two Groton parishes -- Sacred Heart on Main Street and
St. James in West Groton -- merged. Sacred Heart closed in June 2006,
shortly after the Rev. Paul Ring transferred from St. Mark's in
Ring has said he hoped the sales of the Sacred Heart building would
generate the money to build a new church elsewhere so that all
parishioners would have a space to comfortably celebrate Mass. Under the
plan, St. James would be sold once a new church is constructed.
Ring has also doubled as the pastor for St. James since his transfer. He
declined comment on the potential merger or discussions about other
options yesterday.

But Donilon stressed that such discussions are not about finances but
more about how to best provide sacraments and religious education. He
added that Catholic populations have moved from urban to suburban areas
in recent years, although he did not know if the attendance at local
churches is increasing.

Donilon said the options local church leaders may have discussed are far
from final.

"At this juncture, there are very preliminary discussions of options
being discussed at the local level," Donilon wrote in an e-mail to The
Sun. "We are supportive of the efforts of ... Paul Ring and parish
leadership for their efforts and expect that if a plan is eventually
presented to the Cardinal, it will be thoughtful and will meet the
pastoral needs of the Catholic communities involved."


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