The Evangelization and Discipleship and Pastoral Planning teams look back on a very busy summer, filled with grace and blessings...
No matter what the calendar says, many people agree that Labor Day -- not January 1 -- is the beginning of the new year. Schools start up full time and the full workforce returns from vacation.
This summer many people in the Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship (SED) spent a good amount of time not on the beach but in their cars, visiting collaboratives.
Phase II collaboratives have submitted their Local Pastoral Plans (LPP) and are beginning the implementation work. Reality confronts excitement as these collaboratives forge ahead to bring to life inspiring, faith-filled words on a page.
Phase III collaboratives have been working hard throughout the summer to prepare drafts of their Local Pastoral Plans. Drafts are due in to the Pastoral Planning Office in December, and Writing Teams met regularly in July and August. Evangelization Consultant Tom Lyman has been to the Merrimack, West, and Central regions of the archdiocese. He offered writing teams clarification and guidance as they fine-tuned their purpose and vision statements and discerned collaborative values. A basic framework is helpful in constructing these statements. The Collaborative Purpose is built on "two nouns, two verbs, and your definition of the perfect world." The vision statement invites people to look ahead -- what will the 'promised land' of your collaborative look like in five years?" Values are just that, the "enduring beliefs that guide the collaborative's behaviors, decisions, and actions." Some collaboratives have begun discussion about priorities that should be named in their LPP. Tom has also met with a few pastors of newly inaugurated Phase IV collaboratives to talk about what lies ahead for them and their staffs.
"Travels with Tom" also included Discipleship Week, a one-week, overnight, leadership program for high school students, held in New Hampshire at the end of June. Tom joined Father Matt Williams, Director of Faith Formation; Kathy Stebbins and Mike Drahos, Coordinators of Faith Formation for Youth and Young Adults; and several other members from SED. Tom gave a talk on developing prayer and another on virtues. Over half of the teens who participated came from parishes or schools in collaboratives. In June, Tom and Patrick Krisak, Director of Training and Support, benefitted from a generous grant to attend the Divine Renovation conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They met diocesan and parish colleagues from around the world and some pastors and staffs from Boston. Along with Father Paul Soper, Cabinet Secretary for SED, Patrick, Tom, and other members of the evangelization team spent a day with the teachers from St. Patrick School, Roxbury, presenting a Forming Disciples for Mission workshop. Despite the end of June heat, the enthusiasm of the teachers made it an enjoyable and inspiring day. Patrick Krisak commented, "A very nice set of evaluations from a very nice group of folks at St. Patrick School in Roxbury. As I said to them, it was our pleasure to be with them for the day."
Patrick also consulted with the Holy Redeemer and Immaculate Conception Parishes, a Phase III collaborative in Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury. In addition to working on their Local Pastoral Plan draft, this collaborative has devoted much time and effort to refining their communications system and developing a collaborative bulletin and website. Although Phase III has dominated the summer, and rightly so, given their task of preparing their draft plans, Phases I and II are still on our radar. Over the summer Patrick has worked with collaboratives in each of these phases on program formation and recruiting team members.
Another donor made it possible for Michael Lavigne, Assistant Cabinet Secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship, to attend "The Conversation," a Catholic Leadership Institute gathering in North Carolina that explored emerging models of evangelization and leadership in the 21st century.
In addition to the visit with a representative from the Diocese of Versailles, France, our friends from the Archdiocese of Chicago have been in touch again as they embark on their own pastoral plan. In early June, a parish Director of Religious Education from Arlington, Va. Came to visit. She accompanied Patrick to a plan writing meeting in Chelmsford and came away impressed with the process and the people involved.
In the midst of this, the staff of the secretariat has celebrated some milestone events. Since April four babies have arrived and another is on the way. Three weddings will be celebrated in September alone! The Evangelization and Discipleship and Pastoral Planning teams look back on a very busy summer, filled with grace and blessings and look ahead to an even busier fall -- filled with grace and blessings.
Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.