What is the Pastoral Plan Advisory Board?

The Pastoral Planning Advisory Board (PPAB) was formed in 2014 at the direction of Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley to assist him in examining the progress and effectiveness of the 2012 Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, Disciples in Mission. See the plan website at www.disciplesinmission.com.

Disciples in Mission seeks to revitalize the Church in Boston by positioning our parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization, the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ Jesus.

As part of Disciples in Mission, parishes in the archdiocese are being combined in phases, into collaboratives -- one, two or three individual parishes who share a pastor, a pastoral team, a collaborative pastoral council, and a local pastoral plan. Parish members of a collaborative maintain their own identity. They retain their assets and obligations. They retain their churches and other buildings. They each have their own parish finance council.

Phase I, which started in 2013, included 12 collaboratives. Phase II, which started in 2014, included 20 collaboratives. Phase III, which started in 2015, included 16 collaboratives. Phase IV, which started in 2016, included five collaboratives. Phase V, which begins on June 1, will include nine collaboratives. Phases VI and beyond will follow until all 288 parishes have been addressed.

Members of each collaborative receive training regarding the Disciples in Mission plan for the task of evangelization from the archdiocese, and guidance regarding the drafting and implementation of their local pastoral plan. To date, the cardinal has approved pastoral plans of 11 Phase I collaboratives and 14 pastoral plans of Phase II collaboratives. Phase III collaboratives are currently drafting their pastoral plans and Phase IV is in training.

The PPAB is an independent fact-gathering body that works in conjunction with the staff of the Office of Pastoral Planning on issues, plans and activities related to Disciples in Mission.

For example, the PPAB has reviewed and examined various elements of Disciples in Mission including, gathering information and providing feedback regarding the processes of writing and implementing the pastoral plans of collaboratives; gathering information and providing feedback regarding the processes of forming and training collaborative staffs and councils.

The members of the PPAB are a group of laypeople and clergy who, who through their varied experiences in parish life, have developed an understanding of the evangelization goals of Disciples in Mission and the objectives of the processes of forming parish collaboratives.

In carrying out its tasks requested by Cardinal O'Malley, the PPAB members conduct collaborative surveys, engage in telephone interviews, and visit collaboratives for on-site meetings and interviews regarding the implementation of Disciples in Mission.

Meetings of the PPAB members are held as needed to create suitable tools for the assessment of the Disciples in Mission goals. PPAB members gather information and analyze the progress of individual collaboratives in their implementation of Disciples in Mission, and report their findings to Cardinal Sean and other archdiocesan agencies and bodies as requested.

I have been a member of the PPAB since the first meeting on March 13, 2014. My parish is a Phase I collaborative, and as part of my first PPAB duties, I interviewed members of the pastoral plan writing team for my collaborative. The data I gathered was combined with data gathered from interviews of other Phase I collaboratives' pastoral plan writing teams. Other members of the PPAB conducted surveys and interviews of Phase II collaboratives regarding the leadership training they received from archdiocesan staff, and guidance they received while writing their Pastoral Plans. A summary report was presented to Cardinal Sean in December 2015 with all the information gathered from the Phase I and Phase II collaboratives.

The next review of Disciples in Mission conducted by the PPAB was to revisit the Phase I collaboratives to obtain information regarding the implementation of the pastoral plans. Information was gathered and teams of PPAB members were tasked with summarizing the information gathered from the Phase I collaboratives, and our report was presented to the cardinal on October 12, 2016 and again to the presbyteral council on October 13, 2016. We also presented our report to the APC on December 6, 2016.