Life in the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative

It's 8:30 on Monday morning, and the offices of the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative, housed in the first two floors of Sacred Heart Rectory, are already abuzz with activity. Jackie Bean and Lisa Bosse, administrative assistants of Sacred Heart and Sts. Martha and Mary, share the main office and keep the chaos in check. Amy Dow, our director of mission development, is working on the grant applications and plans for our vacation Bible school this summer in Lakeville. It's the first Monday of the month, staff day, and the informal work begins early.

We have nearly two dozen full and part-time staff in the CCC. Having staff members who have been here so long has been integral. I am grateful to pastors like Fathers Richard Crowley, Frank Daley, and Paul Aveni who brought on such capable people with vision. Bringing on new staff has added so much to the mix.

Cranberry holds three families: Sacred Heart Parish in Middleboro, St. Rose Family in Rochester and Sts. Martha and Mary Parish in Lakeville, in an area of 144 square miles of lakes (called ponds here), bogs, farms and filled with generous and loving people. It is a challenge! It takes 35 minutes to drive from St. Rose to Sacred Heart (my car has logged more than 100,000 miles so far) -- but it's also incredibly beautiful. It's been both simple and complicated to administer to multiple families -- it is the way this is being done in the archdiocese that makes this so different. It's something that takes constant fine-tuning.

Soon Holly Clark, pastoral associate and director of ministries, has popped in with information about an upcoming funeral. She has met with the family, with the readings and recommendations for music. Music directors Stacy Dawson, Henry Rondelli and Jack Roussell work closely with her for their respective churches. Kevin Mercier, director of finances, came early and has been working on the weekend's collection's figures, issues with our buildings and our St. Mary's Cemetery. Folks are coming in and out of the rectory, phones are ringing. It's music to my ears.

I've arrived at the offices from the Sts. Martha and Mary rectory in Lakeville with a picture of the morning's sunrise, fresh from the 8 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart. Father Jude Thaddeus "JT" Osunkwo, parochial vicar, resident of the third floor of the Sacred Heart rectory, joins the chaos with an encouraging word. Joanne Mercier, pastoral associate and confirmation director in Lakeville, enters the fray -- our liturgy expert, she's focused on the upcoming Holy Week.

Deacon George Gabriel, director of our RCIA and Respect Life programs, is in to talk about our first combined Easter Vigil. Retired Deacon Charlie Bower is not far behind. Michelle Sylvia, DRE of Middleboro and Lakeville's Generations of Faith program and Lori Handerhan, director of confirmation in Middleboro make their way in. St. Rose's Brenda Roose, Generations director and Carol Galante-Dias, confirmation director, are soon present. St. Rose maintains offices in Rochester, yet works very closely with us. Eleanor Hurley and Bernadette Nelson, indispensable to the enterprise, arrive in time.

The key for us has been a strong pastoral plan and its vision. Holly has been relentless in keeping us focused on it. Her recording of our accomplishments reminds of us how far we have come, and how far we must go. The beauty of this process has been the freedom to innovate. The development of a program encouraging parishioners to witness to their faith, creation of a first reconciliation and Communion program, the establishment of a vocation committee, Holy Hours on Friday nights, a radio show (Saturdays at 8 a.m. on WVBF 1530AM), and our sister parish in Uganda all point to a source, the plan that we agonized over and are committed to.

Staff meetings are raucous and sincere. Days are not quiet, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The changes we made -- merging our offices, aligning religious education, refocusing our Mass schedule (thanks to Fathers Bill Kremmell, Paul Soper and our visiting priests!), using technology (Google Calendar, Flock notes, Facebook and Slack!), and more have been made possible by the support of the archdiocese and a staff who accomplishes the impossible, every day.