The following is a blog post from Sister Pat Boyle, CSJ – the Associate Director of Pastoral Planning
Disciples In Mission: A Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston
The Commission recommends that religious and laity, as well as clergy, be formally
involved in the assignment process of pastors. It further recommends the return to
the consultation process that was used in parishes in anticipation of the assignment
of a new pastor.
What is the consultation process that has been reinstated?
For many years, Parish consultations would occur whenever a pastor resigned or was re-assigned to another parish. The consultation would be held in the parish prior to the assignment of a new pastor. Those consultations gave parishioners the opportunity to express their hopes and concerns about their parish and its future pastor. Those consultations ceased happening around 2002.
When the Planning Commission was drafting Disciples in Mission, it was decided that having input from the leadership of the parishes in the collaboratives would not only be helpful, but it would also help to give a broader understanding to the Priest Personnel members some important information about the parishes involved in the collaborative.
The Phase One consultation process is nearly completed. Over the past several weeks the staffs of the Personnel Office and the Pastoral Planning Office have been meeting with parish councils, finance councils and staffs of the Phase One parishes. These people serve in leadership roles in the parish and have a good sense of the parish, its strengths and those areas that need growth.
Those who attended were invited to talk to other members of their collaborative in small groups and to address specific aspects of parish life: the liturgical life, adult formation and the challenges that the collaborative is likely to face as it moves forward in this process. The conversations and feedback were very honest, hope-filled and encouraging. At each consultation, these leaders expressed their strong faith and appreciation of what has been, while also articulating their hopes and desires about being part of this new moment in the history of the Archdiocese. There were some similarities in each of the collaboratives: the desire a pastor who is open to all ages, homilies that are thoughtful, grounded, and based on the scriptures, being welcoming communities, concerns about religious education programs that differ from parish to parish, and real estate concerns. However, the unique nature of each collaborative was also evident and was expressed very clearly: distances between parishes, parish cultures that differ one from another and how to bring unity while respecting the differences.
At each consultation, the responses were written and compiled will be integrated with other information about the collaborative. All of the compiled data will assist the members of the Priest Personnel Board of the Archdiocese to submit the names of three possible priests for the role of pastor of the collaborative. These three names will then be recommended to the Cardinal, who will make the final decision.
As this Phase One process moves forward, your feedback and most especially your prayers continue to be critical.