BRAINTREE -- As part of a three-phase consultation process, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission (APPC) began releasing lists of proposed groupings for parish collaboration on their website last month following meetings with priests in each of the five regions of the archdiocese.
As meetings to discuss groupings completed, the APPC posted the proposed Pastoral Service Team (PST) groupings online.
Facing declining Mass attendance and a shrinking number of priests, in December the APPC proposed a new structure for meeting the needs of parishes called a Pastoral Service Team (PST). Led by one pastor, a group of priests, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers the PST would provide pastoral services to multiple parishes. Under the plan, each parish in the collaborative group will maintain its separate identity and control of its own assets.
The APCC posted the proposed groupings for the South Region on Jan. 18, the North Region on Jan. 19, the Central Region on Jan. 20, the West Region on Jan. 23, and the Merrimack Region on Jan. 24, according to their office.
In an interview, Msgr. William Fay, APPC co-chair and pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, stressed the importance that the plan will unfold in three consultative phases with a major focus on the APPC receiving feedback on each proposal.
"The key point of all of this is what we are looking at is really managing the life of the parishes in very constructive ways to be able to strengthen evangelization in the diocese and to build up the Church mightily, and strongly for the future," Msgr. Fay said.
Pointing to the importance of feedback in building strength, Msgr. Fay said the first phase was for the APCC to present the plans for the archdiocese to consider after they were presented as a proposal in December.
"The first phase was to lay out a proposal -- and that is all it is -- from the APCC," Msgr. Fay said.
He said the second phase took place in January as the APCC presented more detailed proposals on pastoral collaborative groupings at regional meetings throughout the archdiocese.
"The purpose of phase two was to say, 'Now that you understand the proposal, here is what we suggest the collaboratives might look like,'" Msgr. Fay said.
Msgr. Fay said the third phase will begin Feb. 2, as the commission moves into the "20 vicariates to hear from the people who represent pastoral councils, parishes, and finance councils, and give them an opportunity to be able to just tell us what they think about the proposal."