Pastoral Planning

Pastoral Planning

A quick overview of the diminishing number of priests reveals an aging Presbyterate which in many ways reflects the aging nature of parishioners. In 2014 we find the diocese served by 270 fewer full-time active diocesan priests than in 1970. We are also seriously aware of the number of our family members who have left our areas to follow the job market and the changing attitudes toward faith that culturally inform our very busy families. Under the leadership of each recent Bishop, the planning process has moved forward. Bishop Harrison authorized the studies and commissions that began to plan diocesan life in this time. Bishop O’Keefe charged the Vicar of Parish Life and Worship to look toward the number of parishes needed to maintain the vitality of our faith communities. He also witnessed the declining number of priests as fewer priests served in parishes and in specialized ministries, particularly in Catholic Schools. Bishop Moynihan’s pastoral letter, “Equipping the Saints for the Work of Ministry,” set the tone for the difficult task of realigning parishes and ministries. Bishop Cunningham, recognizing the impact of fewer pastors, has challenged us anew to adapt to new parish structures, including further linkages and clusters, and new parish leadership styles. These styles are quickly transforming the ways that we look at our parishes and our diocese. These styles have already transformed the majority of the dioceses in the United States.