Disciples in Mission: A Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston
A PDF version of this article, suitable for printing, is available here
Article Two – What are we trying to achieve?
“The Pastoral Plan recommended by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission … seeks to revitalize the Church in Boston by positioning our parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization, the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ Jesus … Taken together, the proposed steps aim at the strengthening our parishes as efficacious missionary communities, able to engage successfully the many teaching, sanctifying, and governing aspects of the Church’s mission.” – Disciples in Mission
The Pastoral Plan is an eleven page document. You can read it at www.disciplesinmission.com – but the whole can be summarized in twenty words: Parish based evangelization works, and we can train for it, but we need strong Parishes in order to do so.
Disciples in Mission is all about Evangelization – about making Parishes conscious and effective centers of the New Evangelization. But what does that mean? How can a Parish be Evangelization focused? We’re going to explore that, but we know several things at the outset.
- The Pastor needs to be firmly focused on his identity as the chief evangelizer of the Parish.
- The Pastor needs to be surrounded by excellent structures, including the other Priests on the Staff, the Deacons, the Pastoral Team, and the Councils. These structures, with the Pastor, need to be firmly focused on the mission of Evangelization.
- The Parishes, and therefore the Collaboratives, need to be secure financially.
- Training needs to happen at all levels.
So, what does an Evangelizing Parish do? Again, we’re going to figure that out all together in Phase One, but here, certainly, are some examples.
- We have a Parish in which the Pastor, having written to the Religious Education families and offering to bless homes, goes out and spends most of each Friday evening and Saturday doing house blessings. He meets the people on their own turf, spends ½ hour with them, prays with them, talks with them about the Parish, and moves on. Evangelizing Parishes do things like this.
- We have a Parish in which the Pastor invites people to log in to their Facebook pages before Mass and mark on their pages that they are at Mass. Then, when asked by their friends about why they go to Mass, they talk about how they will respond. Evangelizing Parishes do things like this.
- We have a Parish in which the doors are open in the Church for twenty-four hours on Ash Wednesday. Anytime a person comes for Ashes – midnight to midnight – they are welcomed by at the door, invited to come in to pray, and to receive Ashes, and to talk with someone if they want. The Pastor hears Confessions the whole time. They are given a nail to carry in their pocket during Lent, and encouraged to come back on Good Friday to put the nail in the Cross during Stations. Evangelizing Parishes do things like this.
- We have a Parish in which every time there is a funeral, the family is visited by the bereavement team. They help to plan the funeral, invite the mourners into bereavement ministry, invite them back for a Requiem Mass on November 2, schedule Month’s Mind Masses and Anniversary Masses, and then meet the people when they come for those, and do long term follow up with them. Evangelizing Parishes do things like this.