Future phases of Disciples in Mission announced

BRAINTREE -- With Phase V of the archdiocese's pastoral plan Disciples in Mission now underway, the Archdiocese of Boston has announced planned collaboratives in Phases VI through XI, detailing what is expected to be the last six stages in the pastoral plan.

Set in motion in 2012 by Cardinal O'Malley, the goal of Disciples in Mission is to conserve parishes' resources to allow them to better focus on evangelization. To achieve that goal, the 288 parishes of the archdiocese are being organized into approximately 135 collaboratives over the course of several years. Phase V was the most recent phase to be implemented, having been put into place June 1.

Until now the archdiocese has been unveiling groups of new parishes set to begin implementing Disciples in Mission about a year in advance. The time offered "flexibility up until the last minute to make changes," said Father Paul Soper, the archdiocese's secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship, to The Pilot June 26.

Yet, with this announcement, many parishes are learning which phase they might be placed in multiple years in advance.

Phase VI is set to begin in 2018, with a new phase beginning each following year until 2023. Father Soper said he does not foresee the inclusion of any additional stages.

Father Soper said the decision to publish the full list of planned collaboratives in advance was born out of discussions that Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley had with the archdiocese's Presbyteral Council. After about a year of consulting with the council, the cardinal concluded this was "the right time to publish it," said Father Soper.

However, Father Soper said, the list is still evolving and is subject to change.

He noted that 20 parishes are not yet assigned to a phase of Disciples in Mission.

"In about half of those cases there's an active discussion going on, and I expect that we would have them resolved by the end of the summer," said Father Soper.

"And in about half of the cases, we are taking more of a wait-and-see approach," he continued, noting that with these, too, there are often active conversations happening with the regional bishop and local parish leaders.