Each year since 2012, when Disciples in Mission was promulgated, parishes have been organized into collaboratives of one, two, or three parishes under a single pastor. The primary goal of Disciples in Mission is to strengthen our parishes for the work of evangelization. Since its beginning, we have successfully implemented 93 collaboratives, consisting of 154 parishes, all focused on this goal of evangelization and making disciples.
Even though these are challenging times for parish communities, the work of Disciples in Mission needs to continue. On June 1, 2021, the following 12 parishes have been designated as the Phase 9 collaboratives:
St. Bonaventure, Plymouth;
St. Theresa, North Reading;
St. Patrick, Stoneham;
St. John, Peabody/St. Thomas, Peabody;
St. Joseph, Malden/Sacred Hearts, Malden;
St. Clement, Medford;
Sacred Heart, Roslindale;
St. Katharine Drexel, Roxbury;
St. John the Evangelist, Townsend-Ashby/Our Lady of Grace, Dunstable-Groton-Pepperell
The process of initiating these collaboratives includes the pastor/administrator's resignation so that the cardinal can appoint a pastor to a six-year term for the newly formed collaborative. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the consultation meetings with the leadership of the parishes -- that is, with the staffs, the pastoral and financial council members -- will all be conducted virtually rather than in-person. After those consultation sessions, the Personnel Board will spend considerable time in discussion before presenting their list of recommendations to Cardinal Seán. During Lent, the cardinal, having spent time in prayer about these appointments, will name the pastors of these collaboratives. While this process will take several months before the collaboratives actually get started, the day-to-day activities of parish life will continue.
In spite of the many challenges that the pandemic has caused for parish life, the clergy and staffs throughout the archdiocese have been incredibly creative finding ways to keep parishioners engaged in their faith. People are able to remain connected to the celebration of Masses either in person or online, and some pastors and deacons are hosting weekly updates, chats, and spiritual reflections. Faith-formation programs are finding new ways to reach out to families while keeping all of the necessary precautions that are required by the state.
Even with the challenges and hardships that we face, the work of the Church endures, and the on-going implementation of Disciples in Mission continues. The work of disciple-making and growth in our knowledge and love of Jesus Christ cannot cease. The work ahead of these new collaboratives will not be new, but the ways of doing the work of evangelization may call for new methods and a significant amount of creativity. Evangelization, proclaiming the Gospel, acts of charity, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy have become all the more important during a time like this. They are the path parishioners follow to remain connected to God, their parishes, neighbors and they serve as a source of hope and encouragement -- two virtues we all need! Let us keep all parishes within the Church in Boston in our prayers. Let us pray that by our lives of faithful discipleship, people will come to know Christ in our every word and deed and thus grow in their love for him. That is the hoped-for outcome of Disciples in Mission.
SISTER PAT BOYLE, CSJ, IS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE ARCHDIOCESE'S OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING.