These last several months have given everyone a greater awareness of our need to be connected to those we love and care about. It is in just such times as these that the commitment and efforts of pastoral associates take on more importance.
In many parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston, there are non-ordained religious sisters and lay men and women serving in the role of pastoral associate. Their tasks are varied and often include responsibility for training lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, conducting adult faith formation sessions, coordinating outreach to the sick and homebound, working with the families of the deceased to plan funerals, presiding at wake services, and coordinating the RCIA program. However, the most important aspect of a pastoral associate's work in parishes and collaboratives is to be a loving presence to all parishioners. Pastoral associates know how important it is to build relationships as they accompany parishioners through the joys and hardships of life. They are the staff members who know you by name, greet you each time they see you, whether it is in church or elsewhere, and are always willing to take time to listen to you.
So, it is not difficult to imagine that when the coronavirus began to take its toll back in the winter, and all activities in parishes were halted, these dedicated ministers found new ways to connect and reach out to their parishioners. The disruptions caused by the pandemic put them into hyper-mode to learn new modes of communication. They worked hard and deserve credit for learning and becoming comfortable with the different social media platforms. Connecting virtually through the use of Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, to name a few, became second nature and became the next best means of being present to connect and communicate with parishioners. They conducted small faith-sharing groups, Bible study groups, one-on-one conversations and opportunities for prayer. While the pandemic brought its own reasons for fear and uncertainty, the pastoral associates throughout the archdiocese overcame their fears and insecurities so that they could remain responsive to their parishioners.
These last several months have given everyone a greater awareness of our need to be connected to those we love and care about. It is in just such times as these that the commitment and efforts of pastoral associates take on more importance. This is evidenced by their willingness to respond in new and creative ways to meet the needs of the Church at this time in our history. God has guided us thus far through these strange times, let us beseech God's grace in the days ahead.
As Archdiocesan Liaison to the Pastoral Associates, I know first-hand about their dedication and creativity. And as their liaison, I am always saddened to hear of someone moving on from this ministry. This year, it is particularly difficult because there are seven pastoral associates who are retiring or moving on from their positions. These seven pastoral associates have given a total of 98 years of service to the Church in Boston! They are leaving from parishes they loved and where they were loved. Their years of service deserve notice as well as our gratitude. They are:
Donna Delahanty -- St. Maria Goretti/Our Lady of the Assumption, Lynnfield
Lisa Gulino -- St. Agatha, Milton
Sister Jane Iannacone, SP -- St. John the Evangelist, Winthrop
Linda Muldoon -- St. Francis of Assisi, Braintree
Mary Peterson -- Our Lady of Fatima, Sudbury
Kathy Sherrod -- Sacred Heart, Roslindale
Rosemary Siebold -- Our Lady's/Sacred Heart, Newton
Each of these women served God's people with untiring dedication and love. Their commitment and passion for ministry will be missed not only by their parishioners, but also by all the pastoral associates in the archdiocese. To each of them, we say: Thank you for your years of service and for all you have shared. May God bless and keep you! Be assured of our prayers.
SISTER PAT BOYLE, CSJ, IS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON. SISTER PAT ALSO SERVES AS THE ARCHDIOCESE'S COORDINATOR OF PASTORAL ASSOCIATES.