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The public is invited to a series of workshops to be held in the first week of September on the pastoral planning process underway in the archdiocese.
In May 2007, at the request of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, the 15-member Pastoral Planning Committee produced the report, “A Church Continually Being Reborn,” a roadmap for how parishes in the archdiocese will have to adapt to future realities.
Since its release, pastors and parish leaders have used this report as a starting point for parish and inter-parish meetings to discuss its contents and implications.
To begin this process, Cardinal O’Malley identified three areas of pastoral life he considers particularly challenging for the archdiocese: faith formation, marriage, and pastoral planning.
He appointed a committee to study each area and charged each committee with bringing its findings and recommendations to him and to the Presbyteral and Archdiocesan Pastoral Councils.
The cardinal asked the Pastoral Planning Committee to examine existing services and programs; review the best practices locally and nationally; and formulate recommendations and priorities to guide the archdiocese into the future.
The cardinal expressed concern about the limited number of priests likely to be available in the future in this archdiocese, given the net loss of about 25 active priests per year through retirement, death or disability and the low levels of ordination.
The cardinal pointed out that many parishes in the archdiocese do not have the resources for evangelization and community building, and need to prepare for the future through increased collaborative efforts among neighboring parishes.
All parishes need a plan to prepare them for the challenges ahead, including: enabling vibrant worship communities, reaching out to both the uninvolved and the alienated, and serving the poor and those on the margins of society.
Each parish’s plan must take into account the roles of parish pastoral and finance councils; the contributions of competent, trained laity in various pastoral ministries; and the services of professional and volunteer staff.
To build on the discussions already started in some parishes and bring in those parishes and individuals now joining the process, a workshop will be offered on three consecutive nights at three sites in the archdiocese.
Father George Evans, the chair of the Pastoral Planning Committee and advisor to the archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Office, will present the report’s contents and implications, followed by an opportunity for questions and comments from those attending the workshop.
Workshop are being offered at the following times and places:
--Tuesday, Sept. 2, 7:30-9 p.m. at St. Julia Parish Center, 374 Boston Post Road, (Route 20) Weston -- www. stjulia.org.
--Wednesday, Sept. 3, 7:30-9 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Parish hall, 17 Chestnut Street, Peabody.
--Thursday, Sept. 4, 7:30-9 p.m. at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree -- www.rcab.org/Information/directions.html.
The report is a available online at http://www.rcab.org/Life/PastoralPlanMay2007.pdf. The executive summary is also available in several languages at at rcab.org.