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Pastoral Planning

Disciples in Mission update -- Part I

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Sister Pat Boyle,

Last week I was invited to speak at the annual Co-Workers in the Vineyard Conference about the progress of Disciples in Mission. Most of the people attending the conference work in parishes as pastoral associates, faith formation leaders, youth ministers or in some leadership capacity in the parish.

Contained below is a summary of the update I shared at this conference:

1. Collaboratives that are in Phase 1 are in their last year of the first pastoral plans. They will now evaluate the progress of that first plan and then begin working on their next plan.

2. Those collaboratives in Phases 2, 3, have written their first local pastoral plans and are implementing those plans flexibly and gradually.

3. The Phase 4 collaboratives are completing the writing of their plans. They will submit them to Cardinal Sean for his approval and begin the process of implementation in June of this year.

4. The collaboratives in Phase 5 will begin writing their local plans in the coming weeks and will hopefully complete them by June 2019.

5. Phase 6 collaboratives will begin on June 1, 2018.

6. Things we have been learning along the way:

-- The staffs in Phase 1 express that their parishes are embracing the opportunity to be creative and to shape the process of writing their next pastoral plan. The vision has been set in the plans but the leadership teams express a concern that parishioners have yet to take ownership of the process of implementation. How to share the importance of the plans with the wider parish remains a challenge not just with Phase 1 but with all the phases.

-- Each collaborative's pastoral plan is unique to the parishes in the collaborative. The plan writing process has been narrowed since we first began the process, having fewer priorities, fewer goals thus making the plan more manageable and doable.

-- There is still misunderstanding about "single parish collaboratives." In every phase, there are single parish collaboratives which are required to engage in the same process as all other collaboratives. That process involves growth in becoming evangelizers which calls for a change in attitude and behavior. This can make the work of evangelization more of a challenge.

-- In all collaboratives, the local plan continues to be critical in helping people move from a maintenance mindset to mission focused mindset and this shift is happening slowly!

-- For those not in a collaborative yet, remote preparation is critical. The places where staffs and parishioners have engaged in some remote preparations show more readiness to begin the process of pastoral planning and evangelization. There are a variety of activities that can be done prior to beginning as a collaborative. Some suggestions can be found at: www.disciplesinmission.com/advancepreparation.

One of the participants in the conference approached me at the lunch break. She acknowledged to me that she knew her parish was in a collaborative but she had never heard anything about the term "phase." As a result, she asked someone from her parish so that she would better understand what was happening in her parish. What makes knowing the "phase" so important is that it designates the year that the collaborative process began. As mentioned above, Phase 1 began in 2013 and then each successive year, a new phase has been initiated. It will take until 2023 and 11 Phases for all the parishes in the archdiocese to be in a collaborative. If you are not in a collaborative yet, you may want to ask your pastor when will your parish begin the process of Disciples in Mission. Then, begin to pray for the success of the collaborative.

In addition to giving the yearly update, I also moderated a panel on "Best Practices in Parish Evangelization." Next week, I will share the insights of those panelists.

- Sister Pat Boyle is associate director of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Office of Pastoral Planning.

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