Archdiocese reorganizes pastoral office to support pastoral plan, evangelization

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese of Boston said it will realign some of its central ministry offices to support parish collaboratives, conceived as centers of the new evangelization in the pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission.

At a staff meeting at the Pastoral Center in Braintree, Jan. 14, the archdiocese outlined a restructuring of archdiocesan offices aimed at aligning ministries and apostolates to support parishes in meeting their pastoral goals. The newly established structure called the Secretariat for the New Evangelization went into place Feb. 3 to reflect parish-level changes happening in the archdiocese at the Pastoral Center.

Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization Bishop Arthur Kennedy said the offices involved in the realignment to form the new secretariat took inspiration from the vision of Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley over the past ten years and changes impacting parishes in the pastoral plan.

"It seemed fitting that, because we were asking pastors and priests and the laity of all of the parishes to undergo this rethinking of their goals in the light of evangelization, that we would do the same thing here. So, the reorganization in a sense is something that parallels what's going on in the collaboratives, and it prepares us to be much more capable of bringing assistance to them as they need it," Bishop Kennedy said.

He also said, based on a study conducted by Gallup, the new secretariat breaks up a system that had nine organizations reporting to one head in favor of five offices supporting various ministries and apostolates.

"In the order of managing large systems, you can't have so many people reporting to just one person," Bishop Kennedy said.

As the pastoral plan began being implemented last year, the Office of the Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization and the Secretariat for Faith Formation and Evangelization collaborated on many aspects of the implementation of the new pastoral plan, especially in training for pastors and parish staffs.

"It became clear that what we needed really for the Pastoral Center was an integrative collaboration of all of the offices in which really everybody knew what everybody else was doing, where each office fits in with all of the other offices, so that each office will have its particular set of goals in relationship to the larger goal of evangelization within all of the new collaboratives," Bishop Kennedy said.

Under the new structure, Janet Benestad, who served as Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization under the previous organizational structure, becomes Cabinet Secretary for the New Evangelization.

"This is the creation of a new secretariat, and of course that represents a change of structure internally here at the Pastoral Center," Benestad said.

"We made this change with a particular focus on restructuring ourselves to serve the parishes better, as they enter the process of Disciples in Mission. The cardinal's vision is that they become centers for evangelization, and the concern here was that we structure ourselves in the most efficient way to serve that end," she said.

The new structure puts the cabinet secretary for the New Evangelization in collaboration with the Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization at the top, with five offices reporting directly to them. Two of the five offices, the Office of Divine Worship and the Office of Spiritual Life, have no groups attached to them while the remaining three do.

Apostolates and ministries will be attached to one of the three other offices. For example, the Hispanic Apostolate becomes attached to the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, while Marriage Preparation joins the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support, and Prison Ministry aligns with the Office of Chaplaincy Programs.

"This is a secretariat for the new evangelization, so anyone or any institution who is involved in the new evangelization in the archdiocese will be impacted by the change. That means all of our parishes, all of our institutions. It really affects the entire archdiocese," Benestad said.

A January letter sent to priests by Cardinal O'Malley explaining the secretariat included a list of phone numbers of the reorganized offices, apostolates and ministries in the Secretariat for the New Evangelization -- giving parishes a clear guide of whom to call at the Pastoral Center with concerns regarding different aspects of parish missions.

"We want to be very sensitive to the idea that there are folks out there who do this work -- that work is not interrupted by the fact that we restructured ourselves, they have to continue doing what they are doing -- and to give them the best information we can give them so that they can reach us and we can serve them," Benestad said.

Information regarding the structural changes will become available on the archdiocesan website at; information will also be available regarding the pastoral plan at Benestad said pastors are encouraged to share information they receive in the letter from the cardinal in parish bulletins.

"We are going to continue to put information out, like frequently asked questions and things like that, as we start to get the questions that come in," Benestad said.