Like most people in the Church, my
recollections of growing up Catholic consist of vivid images and pictures, vibrant scenes
and fond sentiments. My warmest memories are about people... lively, animated, loving
people. These people were "my parish." Parish life was so central to us as
children that, when asked where we lived, we were as likely to name a parish as we were a
street or neighborhood. For most Catholics of my era, the parish was the center of our
lives and Church life was parish life.
Although the parish is not the only
setting in which people experience the Church, it is a touchstone for all the other
ecclesial experiences. It supports and sustains the domestic Church. It is home to
countless groups and gatherings of people. It unites its parishioners with the Diocese and
the universal Church. I see parish life as so central to our diocesan well-being that I
would say, "as the parish goes, so goes the faith of the people."
Therefore, as we conclude our Jubilee
observance, I want to present my convictions about parish life and how we can best sustain
this great gift through collaboration among our parishes. I am not seeking to re-create
the past nor am I able to predict the future, but I intend to share my vision, my values
and my hopes. Jesus defines the purpose of His mission when He says, "I came
that they might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). My hope is that
we will do all that is possible to sustain and enhance the vibrant parish life to which
Jesus calls us.
These are not my first words regarding the
future of parish ministry in our Diocese. Rather, this reflection summarizes my thoughts
about a conversation that has been going on for years. This conversation developed against
the backdrop of many positive developments as well as serious challenges that evolved over
the last thirty years. These years have witnessed the positive growth brought about by the
Second Vatican Council, the renewal of our liturgical life, the expansion of ministries
and the renewal of our proclamation of the Good News in an effort to evangelize the modern
world. These advances have been accompanied by some challenges. Of particular concern here
are issues resulting from the reality of suburban sprawl and its demand for parish growth,
the decline of the urban core and its threat to city and ethnic parish ministry, and the
very real issue of fewer priests and religious being available today than in the past.
This conversation is also influenced by the
diversity and richness of our Diocese and the increasing variety of needs. Our
eight-county Diocese is urban, suburban, and rural; manufacturing and agricultural;
wealthy and poor; east, west, and south; and includes diverse races, languages and ethnic
groups. With this richness also comes a full array of needs, all of which are important
and legitimate concerns of the Church. These needs are as numerous and varied as the
persons who possess them. These needs continue to challenge the Churchs efforts and
means of responding. While our Church is blessed with impressive gifts and resources, the
circumstances and challenges of today demand that we seek renewed ways of nurturing parish
As I look to the future I see our challenge to
be finding a balance between these very real needs, and the gifts and resources available
to meet them. Finding such a balance requires discernment. Discernment is a gift given to
the Church so that Gods will might be discovered in the midst of concrete, daily
reality. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit we are charged to find new opportunities
for the mission of Jesus to be accomplished in and through us. Discernment is needed today
for us to faithfully meet the present challenges as we plan for the future of parish life.
If the Church is to flourish in the 21st century, we must offer, maintain, and
support a vibrant parish life for every Catholic.
The characteristics of a
"viable and vibrant parish life" are discernible from many sources. During the
1990's, our Diocese has used Our Vision and Goals, and its five areas of
mission: Celebrating, Evangelizing, Caring, Teaching and Participating. I
offer my further reflections on vibrant parish life.
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We are a Eucharistic Church. As Catholics, we
are formed into a faith community by the Holy Spirit by being gathered around Christ at
the table of the Word and Eucharist. We see ourselves as called by Christ to be His
Church, to become His Body. We know that we are a sacramental Church. We have come to
appreciate the Word of God as proclaimed in the assembly and broken open for us in the
homily. We believe that Word and Sacrament belong together. We know that we must gather to
celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist, doing as Christ commanded us to do in memory of
His life and ministry, His suffering, death and resurrection, and His sending of the Holy
Spirit. We are most true to our Catholic identity when we uphold the importance of Word
and Sacrament, celebrated in common.
For most Catholics in our Diocese, the parish
is our Eucharistic community. People seek a vibrant community where we can celebrate the
Liturgy in a dignified and prayerful way, where, with others of our faith, we encounter
Christ, and from which we can take that presence of the Risen Lord to our families,
neighborhoods and workplaces. Catholics have always turned to the parish when seeking
reconciliation, to marry, have their children baptized, or bury loved ones. It is no
wonder that people sense the need for a priest, deacon or parish minister for these
sacramental, educational and pastoral needs. We understand the important Catholic
tradition of grace and sacrament in the most significant moments of our lives. We value a
Christian community that is spiritually alive. We want our parishes to grow through
evangelization and the Rites of Christian Initiation.
In addition to the opportunities for worship
and reception of all the sacraments, a vibrant parish, alone or in collaboration with
other parishes, must be able to offer religious education on all levels. We have always
prized our Catholic schools. We deeply care about quality religious education programs
such as our Parish Schools of Religion and youth ministries. These are the places where so
many of us have learned how our faith relates to all aspects of life and how the values of
our faith must be integrated into our daily decisions. Adult religious education and
formation opportunities, programs for strengthening family life, young adult
programs...all these must also be regularly available and strengthened.
A vibrant parish reaches out to the world
around it and genuinely cares about the needs of the poor and those who are less
fortunate. We are a missionary Church. Acts of charity, as we read in the Acts of the
Apostles, were characteristic of the first Christian community of Jerusalem. All gave of
their possessions so that no one was in need. We in our day, must seek to imitate the zeal
of that early community. A vibrant parish must inspire in its parishioners a care for its
members and its neighbors. We know that the neighbors of any parish include
the surrounding community with its many different people, the Diocese, the nation, our
universal Church and the whole of the society in which we live. We must be a sharing
community to bear the name Catholic. The Church in the City initiative has
further defined this call to serve the common good of our cities and region.
It is also clear to us that as Church, and
especially as individual members and local communities in the Church, we must be involved
in forming a just society. We must strengthen family bonds in Church and society. We must
guard the sacredness of life in all its stages. We must be concerned about the poor and
the disadvantaged, and the societal systems that affect their lives. We must pursue
justice and peace. Moreover, we must do this in collaboration with the ecumenical and
A vibrant parish is a caring and welcoming
community of faith, a place to which we come willingly, where we feel at home, where we
know we can grow in our faith, where we can find God and be reconciled when we feel lost,
where the emphasis is on the individual worth and dignity of every person. A parish should
be, above all else, a good place in which to grow spiritually a supportive and
caring community to be proud of.
What will our parishes need in order to
realize this vision of vibrant parish life in the next decades? Let me share my
To be the center of good worship, qualified
and trained liturgists and musicians are needed to make sure that what is done is in the
best of the Catholic tradition. The faithful should be formed to understand the meaning of
our communal prayers and rituals, and appreciate them as special and distinct from their
daily routine and chores. Liturgy should be an experience in which the faithful encounter
the presence of God and are inspired to seek a deeper holiness in their lives.
Parishes in the next decades, either alone or
in collaboration with their neighbors, should have effective programs of education in our
faith at all levels. Qualified personnel are needed to administer and facilitate all of
Parishes will need to have coordinated
outreach ministries, again with qualified personnel. The extent of poverty and the need
for such outreach cannot be overestimated.
Parishes will need to collaborate in providing
different services and support groups to assist and aid all kinds of parishioners with
their individual needs, e.g., family programs to help those preparing for marriage; care
for the sick and elderly; programs for those seeking parenting skills; support groups for
the widowed and divorced, for the chemically dependent, and for those with difficult life
situations. While no single parish can afford an individual minister for each of these
needs, parishes can cooperate to assure that someone coordinates them, knows how to
evaluate the best of such groups and where they are available, and can assess the
religious values that ground them.
All of these opportunities require much
collaboration. They demand good stewardship and the willingness to share with others --
the poor with the rich, the rich with the poor, one cultural group with another.
Collaboration includes sharing in the same district or neighborhood, and goes beyond to
invite partnerships between parishes with different cultural roots.
As I look to the future, I also recognize that
each parish has its own history, one that gives birth to its particular characteristics.
We certainly do not want to lose these unique qualities. Many parishes were founded with
strong ethnic roots that were and continue to be important in sustaining peoples
faith. Our European, Asian, African-American and Hispanic parishes are a vital witness in
our Diocese and we are proud of them. Moreover, our rural parishes will not be the same as
our urban or suburban ones. Our richness and diversity are a treasure to be preserved.
Vibrant parish life is the best way for us to manifest the presence of Christ and to
inspire others to embrace Christ more profoundly. This quality of parish life is a reality
in many places. If all Catholics are to experience vibrant parish life, we will need to
sustain and expand the vital ministries we now have, while discerning new and creative
means of providing ministry in the future. We also need catechesis in order for our people
to understand and support this vision of vibrant parish life.
I am afraid, however, that such vibrancy is
being threatened by the effects of growth in some areas, decline in others, fewer priests
and religious, and the increasing inability to hire lay ecclesial ministers in the places
where they are needed and wanted. For the future of Church life in our Diocese, I am
convinced that vibrant parish life, as we have come to define it, must be available to all
areas of our eight counties.
Let us consider for a moment the
consequences if we do not take action now to ensure vibrant parish life throughout our
Diocese. If we simply continue the status quo, we may see the day when we will be a
Church in decline because our parishes and our ministries have become weakened by fewer
staff and diminished resources. This would be a great loss for our people. I do not want
to see the health of our priests, deacons, religious and lay ecclesial ministers
threatened by asking them to do more than they can. I also do not want priests to be so
overburdened with administrative responsibilities that they have too little time for the
sacramental and interpersonal ministry which they see as central to their priestly work.
I can foresee these as real possibilities on the not-too-distant horizon if we fail to
act now. Failing to act now may mean that the evolving reality will impose more difficult
situations upon us; circumstances may take the choice out of our hands. Right now, we have
options. Engaging in a process of renewal can lead to a fuller, vibrant parish life for
those who participate. Failing to act will lead inevitably to diminished parish life.
I realize that parishes grow and change. They
are affected in ways beyond their control by changes in the region or neighborhood where
they are located. I recognize that it is very difficult for the people of a parish to see
their community in decline and in need of support, facing deficit budgeting and an
uncertain future. They may be unable to adequately serve the needs of parishioners with
the ministries necessary for a vibrant faith community. It may well be advisable for a
small parish facing these circumstances to unite with another parish or parishes to ensure
a more stable neighborhood presence and improve the quality of ministry that can be
provided to its people. It takes great courage for a parish to see that it is no longer
viable, and that for the good of the future parishioners, a merger with another parish or
closing is needed. I offer the people of any parish in difficulty my prayerful support and
my guidance in coming to a wise decision about the steps that need to be taken. I
understand that closing a parish without the consultation and support of its members can
lead to lasting hurt and alienation from the Church.
We must never abandon hope in the working of
the Holy Spirit among us, nor in Gods love and providence in our lives. Building on
the good solid traditions of the past and on the willingness of our priests and
parishioners of today to look at their situations in a realistic but hopeful way, we can
indeed face the future boldly and with confidence and trust.
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I offer here my heartfelt convictions and core
values in order to assist the diocesan Church in the process of discernment for the
future. These convictions come from my reflection upon the Gospel, my study of Church
history, consultation with the ministers and faithful of our Diocese and my reading of the
signs of the times over the past forty years. These thoughts drive my pastoral ministry as
bishop regarding the future of our parish life and I believe they must guide us as we
consider the future of our Diocese in the New Millennium.
My first conviction is that our chosen
method for achieving vibrant parish life for all of our people must be an experience of
"communion" growing together in Christ. I want the process that we
use for developing ways of better sharing our resources and personnel to have the same
qualities as the goal we are seeking to achieve. St. Pauls Letter to the Ephesians
presents us with a model of how the Church should face and resolve the issues of its life:
"Living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into Him who is the head,
Christ, from whom the whole body . . . brings about the body's growth and builds itself up
in love" (4:15-16). Therefore, I believe that our efforts to respond to the
realities of growth and decline must be guided by a process that itself is vibrant, one
that "builds up" the experience of parish life for the people and the ministers.
It is my hope that this process, for those who enter it sincerely, will not discourage
people or communities. Instead, any process we use to deal with the future of parish
ministry must encourage the faith life of the persons most directly affected. This
standard which I am setting will be challenging to uphold. It demands the love of Christ,
a charity beyond all telling, a willingness for compromise and sacrifice, and a fidelity
to the Gospel and the Church.
My second conviction is one of deep respect
for, and reliance upon, the leadership of those closest to each situation. I hold in
inestimable value the local community, its gifts, traditions, ethnicity and needs. This
respect mandates that any process involve initiative at the local community level. I do
not believe that true parish life can be imposed from an outside authority. Rather, I am
convinced that it must be discerned in faith and be embraced voluntarily with the heart.
While I will admit that this conviction is a personal approach, I must assure you that it
is an intentional and, I believe, an authentic act of Christian leadership. I suggest that
its validity lies in my understanding of true conversion, and its attraction for me lies
in my esteem for each member of the Christian faithful. Admittedly, it is a challenging
style of leadership, because it depends upon the commitment and responsive fidelity of
courageous members of our parishes and communities if it is to be effective. It is risky
and deeply Christian, because it is an attitude of leadership that requires no compulsory
participation, threatens no consequences for non-compliance, and demands hard work and
perseverance. For those who accept the call to cooperate, I can promise you a powerful
experience of the Spirit and an opportunity for true Christian discipleship and authentic
Church life. I invite the cooperation of all the faithful in the Diocese. My personal
spirituality and style of episcopal leadership dictate that I rely upon the leaders and
members of each local community to participate in the formulation of a plan for the future
and to willingly open their hearts to new life and to a renewed Church.
My conversations on the subject of parish
staffing have shown me that most people do have some idea of what they think might
"fix things." I find many of these "fixes" unacceptable because they
are typically solutions aimed at some "other" people, "someone
elses" parish, one of those "cumbersome" institutions, or some
"unfamiliar" effort. Our solutions cannot deal with the Churchs
people and institutions by using impersonal or hurtful strategies. My resistance to
formulating an aggressive and sweeping plan for parish consolidations or closings is that,
rather than "fixing" a fundamental problem or strengthening the faith of the
people, the actual result is that people experience tremendous pain and alienation. I do
not believe that building vibrant parish life can be legislated. It must involve
initiative at the local community level and be embraced willingly with the heart by those
most affected. This demands local leadership.
My third conviction is that the
priests, deacons, religious and lay ecclesial ministers serving the parishes of our
Diocese must be respected and that their faithful cooperation is essential. The
mission of Christ in this Diocese cannot be accomplished, nor can the challenges of growth
and decline be remedied, without the initiative and cooperation of these men and women in
leadership. I rely very much upon their insights, their gifts, and their generosity to
build up parish life. Our parish leaders are as prepared, gifted, committed, and generous
as any in the Church. I take very seriously my responsibility of appointing and
distributing our ordained ministers in an effective and just fashion, considering the
overall needs of the entire Diocese.
However, I am very concerned about the
increased burden upon fewer priests, the effect on priestly morale of being
"over-stretched", the burden upon lay ecclesial ministers having insufficient
priestly and sacramental support, and the burden upon our institutions to recruit, train,
and maintain lay ecclesial ministers with just compensation. These aspects of our present
dilemma bring urgency to the discussion. We need to move more quickly in planning for the
future in order to honor, encourage and preserve the treasure we have in our parish
ministers because these challenges strike them most significantly every day.
The value I place upon the ministers
of our Church obliges me to state firmly that solutions to the issues of growth and
decline must safeguard the role of the ordained ministers. I look for solutions that are
respectful of the proper role of all in ministry. They must include encouragement,
training, and the just compensation of lay ecclesial ministers. The best solutions will be
those that strive to create collaborative leadership groups that employ the full
complement of all the Churchs ministries.
If local communities are going to
experience vibrant parish life, it will be at the hands and to the credit of
Spirit-inspired parish leaders. My hope is that every parish leader will hear the call of
this present situation and join with me in enthusiastically moving into the future.
My fourth and final conviction is that
vibrant parish life is best achieved through the collaborative efforts of several
ministries and communities in an area, and that these ministries will often permeate
parish boundaries. Such collaboration will utilize and preserve the different gifts of
each parish; it will relieve the burdens of some; and it will promote the faith and the
life of all the Christian faithful. In my experience, there are wonderful examples of
collaboration that have increased the vibrancy of parish life for all concerned. Several
which come to mind are: programs which are done jointly or regionally such as RCIA, youth
ministries, Pre-Cana Days, Separated and Divorced ministry, elementary schools, adult
education/speaker series, and community outreach - programs and ministries that a single
parish might find difficult or impossible to do alone or whose quality is greatly improved
when done collaboratively; one or more parishes sharing a pastoral minister (which neither
parish could support by itself); and coordinated Mass schedules in an area (which
eliminates duplicate times and liturgies). Many of our parishes have been enriched through
The Church in the City partnerships in which worship, social, educational
and outreach experiences are shared. These partnerships are marked by a mutual giving and
receiving, and by intentional and inclusive relationships which impact both the parish
community and individual lives. In all of these cases, parish life has become more vibrant
because resources were shared and coordinated, and the burden on each one was lightened.
Traditional parish boundaries can be respected without serving as an obstacle to shared
parish life throughout every area of the Diocese.
Growth and decline situations are not an
urban, ethnic or administrative problem alone, but they involve the whole Diocese. As St.
Paul reminds us, we need each other, as each part of the body needs every other part.
"If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many
parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you, nor
again the head to the feet, I do not need you. Indeed, the parts of the body
that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary." (1 Cor. 12:19-22). Ours is
a family challenge that demands the prayer, cooperation, and creativity of the entire
family. I invite all parishes in our Diocese to respond to this call of renewing our
mission. The solution I envision will depend upon every parish reconsidering its
responsibilities for "parish life" in an area wider than its boundaries. I
realize that some people may feel that their parish has everything it needs, so why bother
with this process. I want to emphasize that we are called to give witness to a
"Catholic vision" of parish life and unity, and not simply a
"congregational perspective." Each parish has something to give, and each has
something to receive.
I ask that each pastor, staff and pastoral
council begin to consider the needs of an area broader and wider than the traditional
territory of the parish. Likewise, these parish leaders must consider the gifts that their
individual parish can offer to that same surrounding area. The goal of this re-visioning
will be the collaborative use of resources and personnel, the combining of gifts and
creativity, and the building up of and just distribution of parish life so that all
peoples are exposed to the fullest expression of Church life and ministry.
These are my most firmly held convictions
regarding the future of parish life in the Diocese of Cleveland. To restate them:
1) Any process that we use for sharing our
resources and personnel must be an experience of "communion" growing
together in Christ.
2) Any solutions we develop must come from and
be embraced willingly with the heart by the local communities involved.
3) The initiative and cooperation of the men
and women currently in leadership in every parish are essential.
4) The result of our discernment will be a
collaborative effort, involving the networking of several ministries and communities in
each area of the Diocese, permeating yet respecting the boundaries of existing parishes.
These convictions are interdependent. It seems
difficult to imagine a healthy solution for our Diocese that omits any of these or
exaggerates one. Having stated these convictions plainly, I now invite you to join me in
the next step of this journey. We are crossing the threshold into a new century, an
amazing Third Christian Millennium. Amidst the uniqueness and the grace of the Jubilee, we
find ourselves at a perfect time to gather our collective will in order to assess and
renew our Church life and to make things the way they ought to be. The challenges of
growth and decline that I have addressed in this statement are only one important aspect
among many inviting us to renewal in this new time. We must be a reconciled community, one
family of faith, sharing a common calling and recognizing a common goal. We are
Christs Body empowered for this mission. St. Paul, writing to the Church in Rome,
provides the direction by which our common goal can be attained: "Let us then pursue
what leads to peace and to building up one another" (Romans 14:19). If we value
the peace among us and strive to build up the life we share, our mission is secure.
Indeed, prayer and dedication are needed for such a mission. My forty years of ministry in
this Diocese have convinced me that neither is lacking here. Let us join our hearts and
lives as we work to build up an ever more vibrant parish life for everyone in our Diocese.
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The goals and convictions I have stated above
will come alive on an area-by-area basis. Before I can encourage local parish communities
to begin such a renewal, I believe a comprehensive preparation is essential.
A Diocesan Task Force will be appointed in
February of 2001 to coordinate the preparation and implementation of a collaborative
process. This group will develop and refine resources and instruments, building upon work
we have already done in the Diocese. To assist the work of the Task Force, I invite
further discussion in the Spring of 2001 within our parish staffs and parish pastoral
councils, districts and consultative groups in order to suggest the practical means for
implementing this initiative. It is essential that we provide steps and resources that
will be genuinely helpful and relevant to every part of our Diocese. I hope to present the
recommended implementation steps and resources to be developed by the Task Force at
meetings of our priests and parish leaders by the beginning of 2002.
My charge to every pastor, pastoral staff and
parish pastoral council in every parish of the entire Diocese will then be to initiate a
two-step process over a twenty-four month period, beginning in the Spring of 2002.
As a first step, I ask that each parish, using
the resources to be developed, assess its vitality and vibrancy as a manifestation of
"parish life" which the universal Church and our Diocese have envisioned.
Discover and proclaim what most gives life in your parish. Identify your best resources
and your greatest examples of vibrancy. Discern those areas where you hope to enhance
parish vitality. During this time of review and assessment, adequate catechesis will be
essential to help our people to understand the vision of parish life that is at the heart
of why we are undertaking this process.
Second, when the self-study and
catechetical steps are complete, I ask you to turn to at least one parish, ideally one
that touches your parish boundaries. Enter into study and dialogue with them. Look at your
various ministries and share the results of your self-studies. Recall the history and
founding of each parish. Examine the rich ethnic, racial, liturgical and spiritual
variety. Identify the similarities, the duplications and even the contradictions that
exist between the parishes. The goal of this shared consultation is for each parish to
identify the parishes (typically no more than three) with whom they can cooperate most
naturally and begin to develop collaborative initiatives. In some cases, these clusters
will simply build upon existing relationships and successful collaboration already in
place. In other cases, new relationships will be formed. It will be helpful to discuss the
formation and ongoing development of clusters within each district.
Parishes now engaged in The Church in
the City partnerships with non-adjacent parishes are asked to participate in this
clustering process in ways that can sustain the present partnership and build new
opportunities with neighboring parishes. I would like this two-step process to be
completed by the Spring of 2004.
I hope you recognize my stated convictions in
this preparatory call for clustering. I envision this self-selected clustering effort as
the beginning phase of a larger discernment process that will renew parish life in every
area of our Diocese. We each must do our part to plant the seeds and lay the foundation
for collaboration and unity that will deepen with time. If the future of ministry is to be
vibrant and viable into the next Millennium, it will take a stated vision, a thoughtful
and prayerful discernment, a conversion of hearts and minds, and most especially
courageous and cooperative parish leaders. I am confident that the Spirit is moving among
us and will renew our local Church.
To address the challenges which we will
continue to face, I believe that the initiatives coming forth from parish clusters will
need to respond to the following criteria:
- Enhance vibrancy and more effective ministry in all of the
- Better serve important needs and more people than would
otherwise be served by separate parish activities.
- Use parish staff personnel and material resources more
collaboratively, creatively and effectively, and reduce the overall staffing burden for
priests and other parish ministers that was previously necessitated by separate efforts.
- Increase shared leadership, collaboration and the fullest
use of gifts among laity as well as clergy and religious.
I also recognize that the diocesan
administration will need to take action not only to provide resources and staffing support
for this process, but also to respond to the issues that are most appropriately addressed
on a diocesan level. For example, in the future assignment of priests, we will continue to
carefully assess the sacramental and priestly responsibilities needed within a parish and
cluster area, and consider different alternatives, based upon both pastoral needs and the
gifts and readiness of priests to be assigned. These alternatives may include shared
assignments that include parish ministry as well other ministries (e.g. chaplaincy,
diocesan ministry); assigning a pastor or priest to more than one parish; placement of a
deacon, religious or lay person to serve as Parish Life Coordinator; or the assignment of
a pastoral team (priests, deacons, religious, lay persons) for two or more parishes. I
welcome proposals from parishes and parish clusters regarding new and creative ways of
addressing parish staffing configurations in your area, within the present discipline of
Recognizing that vibrant parish life is
facilitated by vibrant ministerial life, I also believe that we need continued dialogue
within the Diocese with our priests, deacons, religious and lay ecclesial ministers
regarding diocesan policies, practices and related expectations that make an impact upon
ministerial life. This dialogue will need to explore areas that we need to sustain, change
or initiate in order to support greater vibrancy in the life of the parish minister.
In addition to working with the Diocesan Task
Force to support the implementation process, the Diocesan Pastoral Planning Office will
coordinate this effort in collaboration with members of the Secretariats for Parish Life
and Development, Clergy and Religious, and Education, and the Delegate for Future Parish
Staffing. These offices will be available to assist you in this process. Their insights
and experiences will serve the Church well as we undergo this re-visioning of vibrant
parish life with renewed unity and collaboration.
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This statement is intended to offer a
vision and a call for the renewal of parish life through our unity and collaboration. I
ask our parish leaders, and especially my brother priests, to give me your support in
leading this endeavor. We must love the Church and help our people to participate fully in
its life. Our discernment and dialogue need to be rooted in love the love of God,
love for each other, love for the Church. We must recognize and embrace the unifying power
the Church has for all of us. I look forward to continuing our conversations within the
Church as we discern the path to which the Spirit calls us.