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  • '24 Hours' revisited

    Last week's Pilot reported on the March 4-5 "24 Hours for the Lord" in Lynn. Here is a glimpse of "24 Hours" in two collaboratives: Acton-Stow and Cranberry Catholic: Middleborough, Rochester and Lakeville.

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  • Implementation and alignment in Methuen

    Alignment is an important factor in the collaborative process. A collaborative's vision should be aligned with Cardinal O'Malley's vision for the archdiocese, as articulated in his Pastoral Letter "A New Pentecost" and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, "Disciples in Mission." And his vision must align with Pope Francis' vision for the universal Church. A good example of alignment is found in the vision statement of St. Lucy and St. Monica Parishes, the Methuen Collaborative: "Renew, Rebuild, and Reach Out: Disciples in Heartfelt Communion with Jesus Christ." These 12 words embody the principles of evangelization, growth, discipleship, and outreach, rooted in Jesus Christ. Under their vision, Methuen's local pastoral plan focuses on three priorities: Creating a welcoming apostolic community; Outreach to young families; Creating a culture that recognizes vocation. In describing their vocation priority, they write about,"... the reality of vocation. God calls us into existence, and he never ceases to call us to into friendship with him. ...St. Lucy and St. Monica Parishes are committed to not only establish the conditions to make God's voice heard but to work actively among our people and in our families so that God's voice resounds and echoes in every facet of their people's lives."

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  • Collaboratives in prayer

    St. Brigid and Sacred Heart parishes are in a unique position. They were together under one pastor, Father Arnold Colletti, for 10 years, well before June 2015, when they became the Lexington Catholic Collaborative -- in Phase III of Disciples in Mission. Their website describes their mindset: One body of Christ in two houses of God.

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  • The Holy Spirit at work

    Phase III is seven months old and well into the process of forming and preparing staffs and councils for the work of evangelization and collaboration. Phase III is the most diverse of all the groups in Disciples in Mission. It has urban, suburban and rural parishes in the mix; it is the most ethnically diverse, as well. Within these collaborative parishes are significant Haitian, Cape Verdean, Vietnamese, and Hispanic communities.

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  • Lynn -- Taking the long view

    As part of the Disciples in Mission renewal for Pastoral Center staff, Phase I pastors and collaborative staff members are invited to speak about their collaboratives at the Pastoral Center monthly staff meetings. In January, the guest speakers were Father Paul Ritt, pastor, and Donna Delahanty, director of ministries, from the Lynnfield collaborative. Earlier this month, Father Brian Flynn, pastor, and Christopher Carmody, director of ministries, from the Lynn Collaborative of Sacred Heart and St. Mary parishes were the presenters.

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  • 24 Hours for the Lord

    In announcing the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invited churches all around the world to offer 24 Hours for the Lord on Friday and Saturday of the fourth week of Lent, March 4-5.

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  • Renewal

    Last fall, Cardinal Sean O'Malley spoke with the Pastoral Center staff initiating a renewal program on the principles and purpose of Disciples in Mission, the Pastoral Plan of the Archdiocese. The meeting was the beginning of a three-part process to inform the staff about the progress of the pastoral plan. More important than a simple update, it also calls departments as a whole and Central Ministry staff individually, to reflect on how they can best serve these parishes. The cardinal reminded the group that, "the goal of Disciples in Mission is to make all of our parishes, schools, and institutions thriving centers of evangelization." Note his words: "all... thriving centers of evangelization." All parishes are asked to be centers of evangelization including those not yet in a collaborative, and Central Ministry staff at the Pastoral Center are ready, willing and able to assist all parishes. In collaboratives, however, there are many steps involved in establishing and forming leadership teams and councils. This requires added attention.

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  • Update: Year of Mercy

    The Year of Mercy, which began on Dec. 8, continues with wonderful things happening in parishes and collaboratives throughout the archdiocese. The collaborative parishes of St. Mary Magdalene in Tyngsboro, St. Rita in Lowell, and St. Marguerite d'Youville in Dracut, offered an all-night vigil on a Friday-Saturday last month. Prior to the vigil, volunteers hung posters with information about it in nearby shops and on the University of Lowell campus. Their work paid off. Following the vigil, Father Richard Clancy, the pastor, wrote: "Hard to put into words the graces that have come through the 24 hour Divine Mercy Vigil ... in our collaborative. The faithful came in droves and spontaneously and generously filled all the hours of adoration. Dozens of people came for the sacrament of confession. The first four and one-half hours were non-stop. We had penitents who went to confession last week and others who had not been in decades. They came at three o'clock in the afternoon and at three o'clock in the morning. Many came between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m. This extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is going to be a time of singular grace. I am so grateful for this time and I cannot wait for similar opportunities in the months ahead."

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  • Collaboratives and the sanctity of life

    This week approximately 300 middle and high school students, and more than 100 adults from the Archdiocese of Boston, planned to board buses and head to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual March for Life, the largest pro-life event in the world. Another contingent from Boston included families, college age young adults, seminarians, and priests and lay staff from the Pastoral Center and parishes. Boston would have been well represented if the weather cooperated. But even without ominous weather threats, not everyone is able to go to Washington.

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  • Return of the Disciple Maker Index

    This month, Phase III collaboratives -- with a few exceptions -- will complete the Disciple Maker Index (DMI) survey, designed and administered by the Catholic Leadership Institute. The DMI is a tool created to help people reflect on their personal spiritual growth and identify the ways in which the parish effectively supports that growth. The results will give pastors, leadership and plan writing teams valuable input as they draft the local plans that each collaborative will write. The survey opens electronically the week of Jan. 18 and closes on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10. It is open to parishioners over 18 years of age and takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

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  • Dynamic research

    Matthew Kelly is an interesting person. Born in Australia, he is a partner in a Chicago-based consulting firm working with top tier businesses and Fortune 500 companies. He is also a life-long Catholic and a speaker at Catholic events. Some years ago he heard a seasoned pastor comment that, "it doesn't matter where you go, you will discover the same 50 people do everything in a parish." Matthew Kelly decided to find out if this is an accurate assessment of parish life. There was no research to corroborate or disprove the pastor's statement so he conducted his own study, at first through informal conversations with pastors he knows, then, branching out to collect hard date from parishes coast to coast. He wondered if the Pareto Principle -- a business theory that 80 percent of the work is accomplished by 20 percent of the work force -- exists in Catholic parishes. He looked at two areas of parish life: volunteerism and financial support. What he found left him speechless. Most Catholic parishes are nowhere near the 80/20 level. Here are his findings:

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  • Evangelization by the mile

    The Phase III Collaborative of St. Marguerite d'Youville in Dracut, St. Rita in Lowell, and St. Mary Magdalen in Tyngsborough is on the northern border of the archdiocese. A mix of city and suburb, it covers 17.4 square miles.

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  • Evangelization 101: Witness -- Invite -- Welcome

    So much talk about evangelization. We are asked -- more than asked, we are commissioned by Baptism -- to evangelize. This isn't new. Jesus gave us this work before He ascended: "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations..." (Mt 28:19). Note the use of the imperative, go. Not, "Please go;" not "Some of you are asked to go;" not, "If you feel inspired, go... ." "Go!" The commission is over 2,000 years old, but perhaps we haven't paid as much attention to it as we should have. For many, this call to evangelize is new, and might be uncomfortable. A parishioner at a collaborative leadership training session said, "I don't want to be the person at the party that everyone runs away from because I'm 'evangelizing.'" Good point.

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  • Phase IV

    Parishes scheduled to be in Phase IV of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, "Disciples in Mission" have been named (Pilot, Nov. 27). Some people are surprised to see that this phase has only nine parishes, grouped in five collaboratives. What???? Phase I was understandably small: 28 parishes in 12 collaboratives. They were -- still are -- the pioneers. For the most part, things went well in Phase I. Collaborative life is not without some bumps and road blocks, but 11 of the 12 Phase I collaboratives are now implementing their impressive local pastoral plans. (Local pastoral plans can be viewed at www.disciplesinmission.com)

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  • Year of Mercy and Advent, Part II

    This second week of Advent holds special meaning. Pope Francis has invited us to "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36), and has called "an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its center the mercy of God. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy." We know that the Amesbury/Salisbury Collaborative is challenging itself to reach one million acts of mercy this year (Disciples in Mission, The Pilot, 10/2). Other collaboratives are also creating opportunities to assist parishioners in living out the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, and receiving God's mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

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  • Advent in a collaborative -- Part I

    With 102 parishes gathered in 48 collaboratives, it is no surprise that wonderful things are happening. An email request sent out on the Friday before Thanksgiving -- in retrospect, perhaps ill-timed -- garnered a flood of news. It could take the four weeks of Advent to share it all. Add in Year of Mercy plans, and collaborative news could easily fill The Pilot! Over the next few weeks we will provide just a taste of the wonderful things happening in collaboratives.

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  • Hard to the Nth degree

    Last Saturday more than 40 people, most from Phase III collaboratives, gathered at St. Brigid Parish, Lexington to learn and hone leadership skills. Sister Ellen Doyle, OSU, from the Catholic Leadership Institute facilitated the day. Training and information are important parts of preparing collaboratives to function and evangelize successfully, but hearing from someone who has been through the beginnings of collaborative life is equally helpful. Rachel Keeler spoke about her experience in Belmont. She and Sister Kathleen Moran, CSJ, are associate ministers at the New Roads Catholic Community of Belmont -- St. Joseph and St. Luke Parishes. (Rachel describes the role of associate minister as a generalist pastoral leadership position, serving under the pastor, Father Thom Mahoney, and sharing responsibility with him for overall vision, strategic planning, ministry coordination, pastoral care, and staff development.)

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  • Matter Conference

    Dog-eared copies of "Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, Making Church Matter" are on the shelves in parish and diocesan offices across the country. E-versions abound as well. It has been a "must read" for parish staff and council members since its publication. This ground-breaking story of Church of the Nativity Parish in Timonium, Maryland, chronicles the growth of the parish. Co-authors Father Michael White, pastor, and lay associate Tom Corcoran tell how they borrowed best practices from successful mega-churches and business leaders, then developed a vision for their parish that is rooted in the Eucharist. Through hard work, and trial and error, they brought a dying parish back to life. The book has been called a "barn burner" and praised by Cardinal Timothy Dolan as, "One of the most important books for parish ministry." The response to this and subsequent books about Church of the Nativity has been so great, that in 2013, the parish staff planned a conference. People came from all across the country and hundreds watched it livestreamed. The gathering, called the Matter Conference, became an annual, much anticipated event.

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  • Checking in with Phase I

    Phase I pastors and collaborative leadership teams were back at the Pastoral Center last week to share their joys and sorrows, tips and caveats with each other and Pastoral Center staff. When they gathered in July, pastors, teams, and Pastoral Center staff talked about ways to track the progress of priorities and goals put forth in their newly approved Local Pastoral Plans. Possibilities abound in July; the sun is out, the days are long, and the exhilaration of having their plan approved carried an energy all its own. The meeting last week took place on a dark, rainy, day, three days before we turned the clocks back. The fall had been busier than expected for everyone, and no one wanted to think about winter. So, how are things going? Responses spanned three broad categories: Great!; We're getting there; and, Oh my gosh, this is hard.

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  • Collaboratives and Catholic social justice

    The annual Archdiocesan Justice Convocation took place at the Pastoral Center on Oct. 24. The event sold out and there was a waiting list -- a tribute to its reputation for excellence. The convocation was well covered by Pilot reporter Mark Labbe and details about speakers and topics can be found elsewhere in this issue.

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  • Catholic schools -- Centers of evangelization

    Workshops are part of the formation process for collaborative staffs, councils, and school boards. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has asked the Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship to work closely with the Catholic Schools Office to adapt the evangelization workshop to serve Catholic school communities. The first "Forming Disciples for Mission: A Workshop in School-Based Evangelization" was held earlier this month for 176 elementary school teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors at Sacred Hearts School in Bradford. The day included Morning Prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was available throughout the day. Father Paul Soper celebrated Mass at noon with concelebrants Father Kevin Deeley of St. Michael Parish, North Andover; Father Tim Kearney of All Saints, Haverhill, and Father John Delaney of Sacred Hearts, Bradford.

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  • Without God...without us....

    Recently, the staff from all offices and agencies of the Pastoral Center, gathered for a 90 minute meeting with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley and John Straub, chancellor of the Archdiocese. The gathering was facilitated by Father Paul Soper, cabinet secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship and director of the Office of Pastoral Planning.

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  • No writer's block here

    Fall brings cool weather, colorful displays of changing leaves, and ... local pastoral plan writing. During the summer, Phase II parishes worked on drafts of their local pastoral plans preparing for the Dec. 1 submission deadline. The writing process expands to monthly meetings with a consultant from the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), and consultants from archdiocesan offices -- Evangelization, Pastoral Planning, Financial Services, Real Estate, and Human Resources -- joining the writing teams.

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  • One million acts of mercy

    A papal bull is an official letter or document issued by a pope. On April 11, 2015, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis issued the Papal Bull, "Vultus Misericordiae" ("The Face of Mercy"), declaring an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, and conclude on the Solemnity of Christ the King, Nov. 20, 2016. A reporter in a Catholic periodical called this 16 page document "the best papal bull ever." Extravagant praise, and "The Face of Mercy" really is a beautiful call to mission and holiness. In it, the pope exhorts us, "We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it ...?t times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's action in our lives." He calls the Year of Mercy, "a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective." (para 2, 3)

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  • Family life and/in collaboratives

    The World Meeting of Families met in Philadelphia, Sept. 22-25. From the event webpage: "Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the world's largest Catholic gathering of families. .... The theme of the World Meeting of Families is 'Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,' emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society." Pope Francis will end his visit to the United States by celebrating Mass for the conclusion of the meeting on Sunday, Sept. 27.

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  • Things we have learned

    Disciples in Mission, established in 102 parishes, 48 collaboratives, was inaugurated in phases in 2013, 2014, and June 2015. The archdiocese has learned a great deal since the plan was promulgated in 2012. Phase I pastors were not shy, and rightly so, in reporting that the timeline for collaboratives to organize and train leadership teams, pastoral councils, finance councils, and school boards, and gather teams to write their local pastoral plans, was too tight. The timeline was adjusted, and nearly all of the Phase I local pastoral plans were submitted to Cardinal Sean by the revised deadline. We learned that a four-parish collaborative is just too big. The Salem collaborative was re-configured to three parishes and is doing very well. Phase I has 12 collaboratives, Phase II has 20, and Phase III, 16. We learned that getting started and writing the local plan is not the end -- it is another beginning. We have an obligation -- a blessed duty -- to provide ongoing support to all collaboratives. As new collaboratives are added, earlier collaboratives are not dropped, the list just gets longer. Pastoral Center staff and consultants from Catholic Leadership Institute were stretched thin. We need some time to catch our breath, so Phase IV will be a much smaller cohort (more about this in coming weeks).

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  • Forming Disciples in Mission

    filled with the urgency -- almost panic -- that comes with recognition that ... it's over. Unofficially, summer is over. Meteorological autumn was just three days away! But by 8:20 a.m., people began arriving at the Pastoral Center to attend the second, open-to-all, workshop on evangelization and discipleship. Michael Lavigne, Assistant Secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship and Patrick Krisak, Director of Training and Support and their team organized the day. Father Matt Williams, Faith Formation Director, was available to hear confessions and celebrate Mass for the group.

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  • Summer company from Scranton

    Catherine Butel, Diocesan Secretary for the Office of Parish Life in Scranton, Pa., stopped by the Pastoral Center recently to discuss collaboration; in Scranton, they speak of linkages and partnerships. Her interest in what is happening in Boston springs from her focus on helping Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera realize his vision of instilling a sense of renewal within their diocese's parishes.

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  • New evangelization?

    Merriam Webster's online dictionary defines buzzword as, "a word or phrase that becomes very popular for a period of time." A few people who want to categorize "new evangelization" as a buzzword -- a flash in the pan, the flavor of the month, a passing fancy. And if so, then why put effort into understanding it, or, taking it further, living it? In a Church over 2,000 years old, yes, new evangelization is a relatively new term but its roots are deep and theological underpinnings are sound.

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  • Summer company from Baltimore

    The Office of Pastoral Planning recently welcomed a team from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, visiting to hear about Boston's pastoral plan, "Disciples in Mission." John Romanowsky, Executive Director of Evangelization; Ruth Puls, Director of Catechetical and Pastoral Formation; and Daphne Daly, Director of Pastoral Planning, spent a full day at the Pastoral Center. Joining the conversation were Phase I pastors Father Paul Ritt and Father John Sheridan; Kathy O'Leary, New Roads Catholic Community, Belmont; and Margo Morin, Salem Catholic Collaborative.

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  • Summer company from Dublin

    For many people, the summer offers an opportunity to get away, see new things and meet new people. In diocesan pastoral planning work, summer is a time to welcome visitors who come to hear, first-hand, about the Boston plan, "Disciples in Mission."

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  • Implementation!

    Two years after the final training session before Phase I collaboratives were inaugurated, the Phase I pastors returned to the Pastoral Center with members of their leadership teams. Their local pastoral plans are completed and approved. It was a long road to get to this point ... and the journey has really just begun. These local pastoral plans cannot sit on the shelf, relegated to the status of check-mark on a list of things required of collaboratives: Local Pastoral Plan. Done. Check. The purpose of this recent meeting was to help pastors and staffs learn and share ways to track local plan implementation progress.

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  • Collaboration in service

    Patricia Fraser, Implementation Manager in Parish Financial Services at the Archdiocese, assists pastors, staffs, and parish finance councils with matters impacting the financial health of the parish. Most recently, she has been working with parishes in collaboratives, including St. Isidore Parish, Stow, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Acton. Tricia had been contemplating joining a mission trip for some time. A "personal invitation" from Barbara Dane (Director of Faith Formation) provided the impetus to sign up this year. Says Tricia, "Barbara just draws people in."

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  • Local pastoral plan -- From the heart of the city

    The purpose statement in the local pastoral plan of the tri-parish collaborative of St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Lourdes, Jamaica Plain, and St. Mary of the Angels, Roxbury reads: "Called together by the Good Shepherd into multicultural, multilingual, and multi-generational Catholic community, we are followers of Jesus Christ and witnesses to his message. We provide a spiritual home in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain where all are welcome. We support one another in our journeys of faith and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors, and the larger world."

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  • Much ado about... something exciting: local pastoral plans

    They're here: Collaborative Local Pastoral Plans! (Available at www.disciplesinmision.com) Almost two years in the making, this long, hard, process may have seemed a bit like the Never Ending Story. And, in a real way, the local pastoral plan is the never ending story. Approval is not the end, it's just the beginning. Now, the plans are being implemented. Local plans cannot sit on the shelf -- they are living documents that have priorities and measurable goals meant to be lived out over a three-year period. Parish finance councils, collaborative pastoral councils, staffs, and leadership teams will monitor progress and report, in an appropriate manner, to parishioners.

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  • Forming Disciples in Mission workshop

    On a recent Saturday, 60 people gathered at the Pastoral Center with the Parish Training and Support team for a full day of formation and examination of the new evangelization. Participants came from all corners of the archdiocese and a large contingent journeyed down from the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. The group included several priests and permanent deacons, some parish staff, and, mostly, parishioners eager to understand better the New Evangelization. Parishes already in a collaborative, and parishes not yet in a collaborative, were about equally represented.

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  • They came back!

    Less than two weeks into Phase III implementation, pastors and parochial vicars gathered again at the Pastoral Center to discuss strategies for goal setting, problem solving, and decision making, and to re-visit role clarity. Deacon Pat Stokely from the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) led the session. These collaboratives have been in existence only a short time and everything is new. In many cases, pastors and parochial vicars are still unpacking and trying to find the best route between their parish churches -- not always a straight line. Even those pastors and parochial vicars who didn't move are working out of a new model of leadership. Case studies and exercises that were abstract a month ago are seen now in a real context.

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  • Corpus Christi

    Just over a year ago, the archdiocese was captivated by pictures and stories about the hundreds of people who walked from MIT to St. Paul Church, Cambridge in Eucharistic procession. The crowd filled St. Paul Church, spilling out the doors and onto the sidewalk. This impressive demonstration of faith was prompted by the threat of a Black Mass scheduled to take place nearby. The story and photographs went viral across the country, reported by national news media. In the face of an impending sacrilege, the Church reacted powerfully.

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  • Phase III begins

    We've been through this before. It's June and the Church of Boston experiences the Great Migration. On June 2, 33 parishes officially began their existence as 16 collaboratives in the third phase of implementation of the pastoral plan, "Disciples in Mission." These collaboratives are urban, suburban, and rural. Eight of them have a pastor who was already in one of the collaborative parishes; seven have a new pastor, and, in the Plainville-Wrentham collaborative, the former pastor Father Bill Schmitt is staying on as the parochial vicar and the former parochial vicar, Father Joe Mozer, is now the pastor. This brings the total number of collaboratives to 48, comprised of 103 parishes. But movement and change in June are not limited to just parishes in collaboratives.

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  • A visit from down under

    Daniel Ang's tweet for May 11: "I have no doubts @bostoncatholic leads way in planning for mission. Delight to meet, share w/ these gifted leaders." The staff from Pastoral Planning and Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support offices return the compliment: it was a pleasure to spend the morning with Daniel Ang, director of the Office of Evangelisation for the Diocese of Broken Bay, Australia. Mr. Ang was appointed to the office in April by Bishop Peter A Comensoli. The new office builds on the firm belief that evangelization is "the deepest identity and vocation of our Church."

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  • Phase III parochial vicars checking in

    Monday, May 11 and Tuesday, May 12, parochial vicars who will serve in 17 phase III collaboratives came to the Pastoral Center to prepare for the June inauguration of the new collaboratives. This was a diverse group ranging from 47 years ordained to two years; seven are, or have been pastors, two are or have been parish administrators, and two are currently serving in a collaborative.

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  • Catholic schools and evangelization

    Over 5,000 educators assembled in Florida last month for the annual gathering of the National Catholic Education Association. Kathleen Mears, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, attended and reports that evangelization is very much on the minds of her colleagues across the country. In Catholic schools, evangelization takes a two-pronged approach: evangelize the students in age appropriate ways -- from little ones through high school -- and evangelize the faculty and administration. More than just teaching about the Church's mission to evangelize, the schools strive to help their students and faculty become evangelizers. Speaking of the conference, Superintendent Mears says that evangelization was "not a foreign subject, spoken of by only a few, but by many (conference) speakers and participants." Boston is implementing an archdiocesan-wide pastoral plan that is rooted in evangelization, and our Catholic schools definitely have a part in this implementation.

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  • Evangelization -- all are welcome!

    Currently, 71 parishes are working out of the collaborative leadership model as 32 collaboratives. In June, those numbers will grow to 107 parishes and 49 collaboratives. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into preparing the clergy, councils, and staff of these parishes for the work of evangelization. They spend hours in training sessions to hone and develop additional leadership and evangelization skills. This is all part of the pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. The training is not just to help collaboratives serve the spiritual needs of parishioners. Evangelization training is designed to help members of the collaborative staff tend to their own journey of faith as disciples.

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  • Phase II collaboratives enter next stage of planning

    Phase II collaboratives were inaugurated in June 2014, but months earlier the pastors came for preliminary training to look at strategies to help stabilize parishes for the work of evangelization. Since September, training has been in high gear: first parochial vicars and then parish councils, finance councils, and school boards. The final group scheduled for training is parish staff and collaborative leadership teams. Evangelization training is aimed at helping participants on their own spiritual journey and their own relationship with Christ, as well as learning about and sharing best practices for evangelizing others. The leadership track presents skills to help collaborative teams effectively work together toward a common goal.

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  • Co-Workers conference

    Last Friday, more than 150 people gathered at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Newton, for the eighth annual Co-Workers in the Vineyard Conference. This conference, born out of the U.S. bishops' document on lay ecclesial ministry, is open to all, but focuses on the work of clergy and professional staff in the parish. Several pastors came with their entire parish staff. Sister Patricia Boyle, CSJ, associate director of the Office of Pastoral Planning gave a brief update on the implementation of the pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission, using the Gospel of the day (John 21:1-14) as her context:

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  • Collaboration or merger?

    An interesting conversation came up at a recent training session for pastors of Phase III collaboratives: If we -- parishes in the collaborative -- will be doing so many things together, why is this called collaboration and not merger? Good question.

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  • Death and resurrection: Knowing how the story ends

    The events of Holy Week are a mix of unspeakable sadness and incredible hope. The story does not end on the cross, nor does it begin at the empty tomb. It is all one piece. We know how the story ends which is a blessing as we walk the Stations of the Cross or experience the barren church while we await the Easter fire on Saturday night.

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  • Lent and the triduum

    Lent In his Lenten message Pope Francis said, "Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a 'time of grace' (2 Cor 6:2)." The Archdiocese of Boston, echoes this, "Lent provides an opportunity to renew faithfulness, and for those who have been away from the regular practice of the faith this initiative offers a chance to begin again." The initiative referred to is The Light is On For You, now a tradition in Advent and Lent to make the sacrament of reconciliation more available at parishes and chapels in the archdiocese. And for many wanting to begin again, the first step is confession.

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  • Back for more!

    Pastors returned to the Pastoral Center last week to continue their preparation for the June start of Phase III collaboratives. The focus this time was on leadership. Dan Cellucci and Lucille Smith from the Catholic Leadership Institute facilitated the sessions. Dan said that in his work with dioceses across the country, "Everyone is watching Boston. You're doing something different... Boston is making an unparalleled investment in people."

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  • Missionary perspective

    "Missionary Zeal" and "Small Groups" are two of the seven traits of an amazing parish referenced in past Disciples in Mission articles. A missionary priest talks about parish life in the Church of Zambia where small groups and zeal exist in abundance.

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  • Phase III pastor training

    Phase III collaboratives will be inaugurated in June. Preparation is underway. Earlier this week 17 priests who will pastor 36 parishes in Phase III collaboratives came to the Pastoral Center to begin their training.

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  • Collaborative Lent

    There are currently 73 parishes in collaboratives under the archdiocesan pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. What does Lent look like in a collaborative? Think Lent, think mission; the words go hand in hand. Many collaboratives are continuing, or, in some cases, reviving, the practice of offering a parish mission. In Lynnfield, a Phase I collaborative, long-time staff cannot recall the last mission at either St. Maria Goretti or Our Lady of the Assumption Parishes. It has been a while. This year they are planning a three-day mission using the theme "The Way," referring to the name given to early Church followers of Jesus who were known as "belonging to the Way." The mission will begin Sunday afternoon, March 1, at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (OLA), with reflection and discussion on "The Eucharist -- the Way of the Lord." On Monday, the mission begins at 10 a.m. at OLA with the film "The Way" followed by lunch, discussion, adoration in the afternoon, and praise and worship in the evening, at St. Maria Goretti (SMG). Tuesday, the final day, begins at 1 p.m., at SMG, with a visual meditation, "Jesus the Christ," and in the evening, a one-woman play: "The Heart of the Cross." More information about locations and times is available at www.Lynnfieldcatholic.com.

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  • RCIA and Collaboration

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops describes the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) as a process whereby participants "undergo ... conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments... The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism." The Archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship adds, "It (RCIA) is a process rather than an educational program and ... takes place within the community of the faithful, the local Church." Note: "...within ...the local Church." Paragraph nine of the Introduction to the Rite is explicit: "...the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptized.... The entire community must help the candidates and catechumens throughout the process of initiation." Clearly, we're all involved.

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  • 'Disciple Maker Index'

    Parishioners in Phase II Collaboratives are asked to participate in a survey that will be emailed or otherwise made available to them this week. The Disciple Maker Index is a tool to help parishioners reflect on their personal spiritual growth and identify the ways in which the parish effectively supports that growth. The results will give pastors, leadership teams, and local plan writing committees valuable input as they draft the local plans that each collaborative will write this year.

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  • Phase III pastors

    Tears and rejoicing. Tears, a beloved pastor is leaving; rejoicing, a beloved pastor is staying. This is always the reality of changes in pastor assignments. Parishes are experiencing these emotions now as the names of pastors for the Phase III collaboratives have been announced. Statistically, it looks like this: of the 17 collaboratives, nine will keep a pastor currently serving in one of the parishes; seven will have a pastor new to the parishes, and in one collaborative, the current parochial vicar will step up as pastor. Pastors have been named, but they do not begin their new, collaborative assignment until June 2. Between now and then, barring unforeseen circumstances, they remain pastor -- or in some cases, administrator -- of the parish they are in right now, today. The Big Move happens in June. Preparation is key to smooth transitions. These 17 priests will come to the Pastoral Center for training in March and May and in the meantime, begin the process of saying goodbye and thinking about the road ahead.

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  • Amazing Parish traits -- Part III, traits six and seven

    The parish is rooted in prayer, has a clear vision and courageous, persevering leadership. The parish pays great attention to Sunday liturgy and all that goes before and after. They have made faith formation for all ages and stages a priority. What else contributes to making a parish amazing? The Amazing Parish Services program identifies two final traits on the list of what makes a parish amazing: Small Group Discipleship and Missionary Zeal.

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  • Amazing parish traits -- Part II

    Having examined three of the seven traits of amazing parishes as described by the Amazing Parish project, we look this week at #4, the Sunday Experience, and #5, Compelling Formation. "Sunday Experience" seems an unsettling, way to describe Holy Mass, but the phrase neither negates nor diminishes the fact that Mass is the most important thing the parish does. The Mass is the source and summit of our faith, therefore, everything that happens before, after, and during Mass, warrants attention. Amazing Parish names nine components in the Sunday Experience starting with "Getting People There." (Complete list at amazingparish.org) Finding out Mass times and navigating the parking lot are part of the "Sunday experience" and are among the things that deserve -- demand -- attention. If people don't know the Mass times or church address or where the parking lot is, they can't (or won't) come. Up to date parish websites are as necessary to making the parish known as the attractive sign out front.

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  • Phase II moving along

    The first day was cold. The second day was record-breaking cold. Below zero temperatures on the coldest day in years did not deter a sturdy, dedicated, cadre of Phase II collaborative clergy and parish staff from coming to the Pastoral Center for two days of Evangelization Training last week. Bookmarked by words of encouragement and appreciation from two bishops, the program was presented by the Office for Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support (OLFFPS) as part of Disciples in Mission implementation. Bishop Peter Uglietto, vicar general of the Archdiocese, greeted the 85 participants. He thanked them for coming and said, "We are so proud of you and what you are doing!" With gratitude as a preamble, the session began. Tom Lyman and Kathryn Boyle, evangelization trainers in the OLFFPS, led morning prayer.

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  • New Year's resolutions and amazing parishes

    Much has been written the past few weeks about best practices, and the dawn of a New Year is ripe for resolutions and improvement. In addition to exercising more, eating more veggies, and losing those 10 Christmas pounds, this is also a good time to re-visit the Amazing Parish movement.

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  • Reasons for hope

    "Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune -- without the words/And never stops at all..." Oh Emily Dickinson, the Archdiocese of Boston has its own tale of hope! And, although hope is one of our theological virtues (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1812) and we know that we must, "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope," (1 P 3:15), sometimes the singing that Dickinson writes about, well ... it doesn't stop, but at times it surely slows down. Fortunately, Advent is the perfect time to rekindle hope. If your hope is flagging, Advent is made for you!

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  • Best practices -- II

    Gaudete Sunday is here and we continue to look at best practices that can be helpful to parishes throughout the year, but especially at Christmas time. As reported last week, 32 percent of the people worshipping with us, may not have been in church since last Christmas.

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  • Best practices: Advent and Christmas

    There is something about Advent and Christmas that speaks to the heart. People who have not been with us at Mass for months, are drawn back to their parish church, to the familiar creche, and Advent and Christmas hymns that play in our minds. Crowded church parking lots and pews might be aggravating to some of "the regulars" whose faith, prayers, and generosity keep the parish going week after week when the pews and the parking lot aren't crowded, but woe to us, faithful Catholics, readers of The Pilot, if we do not think long and hard about how we can make the "sometime" church-goers want to worship with us each week.

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  • Vocations: Wake up the world!

    Many parishes are blessed with consecrated men and women religious on parish staffs or, as parishioners, worshipping with the parish community. Helping parishes become strong, stable, effective centers of evangelization has been their work, implicitly or explicitly, long before Disciples in Mission was promulgated. Sister Marian Batho, CSJ, Delegate for Religious for the archdiocese, reminds us, "We (sisters) came here (to Boston) for pastoral planning. We didn't call it that back then, but there were pastoral needs. Today, the pastoral need is to 'Wake up the world!'"

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  • Finance and operations

    Helping parishes become strong, stable, intentional, and effective centers of evangelization takes solid leadership. To that end, great care is needed when forming parish and collaborative staffs, making sure that the gifts and talents of current staff are being used well. Recruiting for open positions is done with an eye to getting the right person to serve the mission. Finance and Operations Manager is a new role generated by the collaborative model of leadership. Here is the job description:

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  • November -- the month of All Souls

    According to Archdiocesan records, parishes reported 13,249 deaths in 2013. The death of a parishioner, active or lapsed, young or old, from a large family or a solitary figure, affects the Body of Christ that is the parish. The poet John Donne put it well, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

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  • 19 words... or more

    Members of Phase II Collaboratives gathered recently for training for parish councils, finance councils, school boards, and invited parishioners. At the beginning of the day, participants were asked to define a collaborative. It would seem obvious that parishioners in the 71 parishes currently in 32 collaboratives, plus faithful readers of The Pilot, and other interested and informed Catholics, could quickly come up with the "official" definition.

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  • Training and more training

    It was a dark and stormy night. Really. A fierce nor'easter whipped in and unpacked torrential rain and impressive winds, and threatened to stay for days. Still, in the midst of all of this, they came: members of Phase II parish councils and finance councils, school boards, a self identified member of his collaborative's "kitchen cabinet," pastors, a parochial vicar, and staff from the Pastoral Center in Braintree. They came to North Andover. Similar meetings -- minus extreme weather -- are being held throughout the archdiocese because an important part of Disciples in Mission is formation and training. Clergy, staffs, councils and boards receive training in Leadership and Evangelization. Sessions on General Topics address practical issues that parish councils, finance councils and school boards may encounter in their advisory role to pastors: budgeting and finance, real estate and facilities, personnel, and the canonical directives that impact these things. Participants hear from, and engage with the staff from the archdiocesan Finance, Real Estate, Human Resources, Canonical Affairs, and Pastoral Planning offices.

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  • Amazing Parish webinar

    Six weeks ago, more than 500 people from around the country, including representatives from the Archdiocesan Office of Pastoral Planning, Secretariat for New Evangelization, the Belmont and Salem Collaboratives, and Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden, gathered in Denver for a two-day Amazing Parish conference. At the end of the event, organizers promised that the exchange of ideas would continue. True to their word, the first Amazing Parish webinar took place Oct. 9. A benefit of technology is that this follow up mini-conference involved no fee, no air travel, no hotel, no time away from the office.

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  • Disciple Maker Index

    The Archdiocese of Boston, like dioceses throughout the world, conducts annual surveys of parishes to collect statistical data for local and national directories. Some of the information is sent to Rome, helping to provide a snapshot of the universal Church. Most of the information gathered is numerical: how many people attend Sunday Mass, how many infants were baptized, how many children attend religious education classes, how many people were confirmed, how many people went through the RCIA process, how many funerals? Numbers, numbers, numbers. These statistics are important, but don't give great insight into the spiritual growth of members in a particular parish.

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  • Parochial vicar training

    Last week, 18 parochial vicars spent three days at the Pastoral Center for training with the Office for Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support, the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) and the Office of Pastoral Planning. The training will assist them as they serve in Phase II collaborative parishes. The group included two recently ordained priests and seven priests with service ranging from 29 to 47 years. Some of the longer-serving priests had been pastors and are now priests in a collaborative. The training had two components: evangelization and leadership. Bishop Arthur Kennedy, episcopal vicar for New Evangelization welcomed the group. Janet Benestad, cabinet secretary for New Evangelization and Faith Formation, and Father Paul Soper, director of the Office of Pastoral Planning also offered greetings.

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  • Evangelization training

    Training for Disciples in Mission parish collaboratives is divided into stages. Each stage is geared to a specific group within the collaborative and each group receives training in leadership and evangelization.

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  • Planning for vocations

    When speaking about Disciples in Mission, the pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Boston, vocations are always part of the conversation. Disciples in Mission asks each collaborative to prepare a local pastoral plan that will chart the direction for that particular collaborative. Over the course of three years, the pastor, collaborative leadership, councils, and parishioners will monitor progress to make sure that the collaborative is doing its best to live out what they set forth in their plan. The local pastoral plan is unique to each collaborative, reflecting their context, needs, and gifts. Each plan must contain three pastoral priorities, one of which focuses on promoting vocations to diocesan priesthood. Father Daniel Hennessey, director of vocations for the archdiocese, is encouraged by the great potential provided by Disciples in Mission to build a culture of vocations and create environments in parishes where priestly and religious vocations will flourish. Father Hennessey says that this is more than just offering programs. Infusing a genuine culture of vocations into every aspect of parish life requires a concerted effort.

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  • Two lists

    This week The Pilot names 36 parishes that will form 18 collaboratives in Phase III of the archdiocesan pastoral plan Disciples in Mission. The collaboratives will be inaugurated in early June, bringing the total number of collaboratives in the archdiocese to 50, made up of 107 parishes.

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  • Rocket science?

    "Two Catholic, rocket-scientist clergymen walk into a bar ... ." Obviously, we are talking about Father Paul Soper, the director of the Pastoral Planning Office, and Deacon Dan Burns, the director of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Office -- and it's no joke. Although both men are scientists by education, and have well-honed senses of humor, each is very serious about his vocation. With the implementation of Disciples in Mission, their work is intertwined.

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  • Amazing parishes

    The Amazing Parish movement describes itself as, "a group of committed Catholics from around the United States who love the Church and ... want to help parishes be amazing by connecting them to great resources." Last week over 525 participants from 115 parishes joined by priests, bishops, and diocesan staffs from across the United States and Canada, gathered in Denver, Colo. for a two-day Amazing Parish Conference. Hoping to attract 25 parishes, conference organizers registered 115 parishes with a waiting list of 125! The conference, materials and meals were free thanks to generous Catholic donors who want to help parishes be amazing. Boston was represented by members of pastoral teams from the Belmont, and Salem Collaboratives, staff from Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden, and from the Archdiocesan Office of Pastoral Planning and the Secretariat for the New Evangelization.

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  • Adult faith formation -- collaboratively

    The Billerica Catholic Collaborative, made up of St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. Theresa Parishes, serves the entire Catholic community of Billerica. Now in its second year of collaborative ministry, staff and parishioners continue to explore this new model of leadership. Father Shawn Allen is pastor of all three parishes, ably assisted by parochial vicars, Fathers Martin Dzengeleski, and Gerald Souza, senior priest in residence Father John J. McCormick, and Permanent Deacons Phillip DiBello and Allan Shanahan. Pastoral associate Adrienne Cullen is part of the dedicated lay staff of the collaborative.

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  • Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and Pastoral Planning

    The idea of a diocesan pastoral council can be traced back to Pope Paul VI's 1965 Decree Christus Dominus: "It is highly desirable that in each diocese a pastoral council will be established over which the diocesan bishop himself will preside and in which specially chosen clergy, religious and lay people all participate. The function of this council will be to investigate and weigh matters which bear on pastoral activity and to formulate practical conclusions regarding them." (CD 27)

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  • What's the difference?

    In the Archdiocese of Boston, as in many dioceses across the country, having one pastor responsible for more than one parish is a reality. This prompts a valid question: What is the difference between one pastor pastoring two or three parishes, and Disciples in Mission's plan to form parishes into a collaborative with one pastor?

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  • Planning... and planning

    Disciples in Mission is the Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston. It is the broad plan to make all parishes vibrant centers of evangelization by organizing parishes into collaborative groups under one pastor and leadership team. Currently, 71 parishes are ministering as 32 collaboratives. The 12 collaboratives in Phase I, at just over one year old, have reached an important milestone in their young collaborative history. Within the broad pastoral plan is the directive that each collaborative prepare another plan -- a more specific, local plan, addressing the needs and vision, and tapping the unique gifts and strengths of the particular collaborative. Two plans: Disciples in Mission is the macro plan; the Local Pastoral Plan is the micro plan. Disciples in Mission originally called for local plans to be ready within the first eight to 12 months. Phase I collaboratives are the pilot group, testing a pastoral plan that, until their inauguration, existed only on paper. Living out the pastoral plan is a different reality. Responding to requests that the timeline for drafting and submitting the local plan be lengthened, the Disciples in Mission directive was amended and the time frame changed. Drafts of the local plan for Phase I Collaboratives are due in December. The final version is due in June 2015, which allows six months for revisions, if needed.

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  • In residence, still serving

    The bumper sticker speaks volumes: "God Bless the Whole World. No Exceptions." After just a few minutes with Father Frank Cloherty it is obvious that this is not just a slogan, it is his prayer. Time with Father Cloherty is time well spent.

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  • Catholic Leadership Institute -- partners in ministry

    In a March, 2013 article in The Boston Globe, Father Paul Soper, Director of the Office of Pastoral Planning spoke about the work facing the 12 pastors who were about to begin Phase I of the pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. Acknowledging the ground-breaking, exciting, but difficult work ahead, Father Soper said, "We're putting a lot on their (the pastors) shoulders; therefore it only makes sense to give them the best support we can," Now in Phase II of the plan, that practical assistance continues.

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  • A parochial vicar's perspective

    Father Anthony Luongo, Father Tony, was ordained in 1987 and has served at parishes in West Roxbury, Norwood, and Stoneham. In 2013 he was assigned as Parochial Vicar in the Phase I Lynnfield Collaborative of St. Maria Goretti and Our Lady of the Assumption Parishes. Because of his prior assignments, he is comfortable serving in large, busy parishes and in parishes with schools. Lynnfield is a good fit. Father Tony is working with pastor Father Paul Ritt, Permanent Deacon Tom O'Shea, and a full pastoral staff. Together with faith-filled parishioners of both parishes he is living out the pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. The Lynnfield Catholic Collaborative is now in the second year of implementation, which is a good time to reflect on being one of the 12 collaborative pioneers.

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  • Five myths, five realities

    Disciples in Mission, the Pastoral Plan of the Archdiocese of Boston, is now in its second year of implementation. Although much has been written about the plan, some misunderstandings exist. Here are five points that seem to need clarification.

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  • Checking in

    If anyone thinks that only endings and goodbyes are difficult, talk with Phase II pastors. Beginnings can be hard as well. "Expect the unexpected" could be the rule of the day. Both time and effort were spent in preparation for the June 3 start of the 20 Phase II collaboratives. Pastors went through almost two full weeks of training, studying all sorts of information about their new parishes and hearing about the support services that are available from Pastoral Center offices and agencies. Sometimes what is on paper looks different when seen up close, in real life.

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  • Promises

    The Rite of Ordination of Priests is filled with beautiful prayers and ritual actions as well as meaningful passages from Sacred Scripture. Those who were present at the Cathedral on May 24, or watched the ceremony on The CatholicTV Network can attest to this.

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  • 'A New Pentecost'

    In his 2011 Pastoral Letter, "A New Pentecost: Inviting All to Follow Jesus," Cardinal Seán O'Malley sets the scene: "We remember particularly how the disciples were gathered in fear and confusion as they hid in the Upper Room. At that moment, they lacked a sense of outward mission and purpose. Christ then sent the Holy Spirit to them and a great transformation occurred." ("A New Pentecost" 1)

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  • The importance of preparation

    This weekend the archdiocese reflects in a special way on the gift of priesthood as we celebrate the ordination of nine priests. The life of a priest is one of faithfulness, sacrifice, and obedience. We give thanks for these nine men who begin their life of priestly service to God and the people of the archdiocese at this exciting and challenging time. As seminarians, they received training in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, Disciples in Mission to prepare them for the time when they will serve in a parish collaborative.

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  • Town meetings in Cranberry Country

    Father John Sheridan is Pastor of the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative made up of the faith communities of Sacred Heart, Middleborough, Sts. Martha and Mary, Lakeville, and St. Rose of Lima, Rochester. His 775-plus friends on Facebook, know about the good things happening in cranberry country; Father Sheridan does a great job of chronicling and spreading the good news. Looking beyond the photos of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the collaborative Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and the successful collaborative Lenten mission, perhaps the time has come to ask: How is day to day life in cranberry country? A conversation with Father Sheridan last week provided some answers.

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  • Counting down

    Transition: noun tran(t)-'si-shen, tran-'zi-, chiefly British tran(t)-'si-zhen a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another. (Merriam-Webster Online)

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  • The Spirit among us

    On Monday, May 5, a group of 20 pastors will return to the Pastoral Center in Braintree for another week of training and preparation for the June 3 inauguration of 20 new collaboratives in Phase II of the archdiocesan pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. A collaborative is made up of one, two, three or four parishes who share a pastor, a pastoral team, and a collaborative pastoral council. Each parish within the collaborative maintains its own identity, assets and obligations, buildings (including churches), and parish finance council. Phase II collaboratives include 43 parishes. Within their first 18 months, they will write and submit a Local Pastoral Plan that fits the unique needs and gifts of their specific collaborative. The collaborative structure presents a new leadership model, designed to make our parishes vibrant centers of evangelization: strong, stable, intentional and effective heralds of the Good News.

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  • 'With Christ joy is constantly born anew'

    In his apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel" ("Evangelii Gaudium") Pope Francis writes: "With Christ joy is constantly born anew." Nowhere is this more evident than in the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum and Easter. These services are the liturgical highlight of the Church calendar. Parishes put great effort into planning liturgies that will help parishioners enter into a deeper experience of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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  • Vatican II, Holy Week, and parish collaboratives

    The Second Vatican Council produced 16 documents: four constitutions, three declarations and nine decrees. The very first, the "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" ("Sacroscanctum Concilium"), passed overwhelmingly with a 2147 to 4 vote. Today, 50 years later, this seminal document reminds all Catholics: "Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Peter 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14). This directive is operative in parishes in different ways -- yet another example of one size doesn't fit all.

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