Archdiocese Consultation Session Summary Report
March 05, 2016
Through direction from the Archbishop, a Strategic Planning Committee for the Archdiocese of St. John’s was formed to explore the renewal of parishes in the Archdiocese. The committee prepared themselves by reviewing many documents, conducting a survey, and meeting with representative groups from parishes and deaneries, the priests and diocesan committees and boards. The Strategic Planning Committee developed a draft proposal to revitalize the Archdiocese by making better use of the available resources and ensuring the main focus of the parishes and the Archdiocese is on discipleship and spread of the Gospel. The draft proposal had one guiding principle: The faithful must have access to the sacraments and the rites of the Church.
The draft proposal was read and distributed in all parishes. The attached Report has the feedback collected at each of the seventeen facilitated meetings held in the fall of 2016, in which over 1300 people participated. Each meeting followed the same format and allowed people to address the same questions. The questions and comments were recorded verbatim and projected on a screen at the meeting so attendees would know their comments and concerns are accurately recorded. This Report has the feedback from all sessions, except factually inaccurate and offensive comments. It is organized as the comments relate to the six questions addressed in each session.
Does the concept of a pastoral zone make sense in light of our present realities?
This question drew out strong and worthwhile responses at all sessions. The word “zone” does not inspire a sense of unity for the collaborating parishes. A more acceptable designation will be determined that will deliver the same renewal effect. Some suggested a reconfiguration of the deaneries to align the collaborating parishes and shared services. Many acknowledged that collaboration and sharing resources is essential and already implemented to some extent in many areas. The focus on present realities stirred comments and emotions that reflect the amount and scope of change experienced. Most mentioned were decline in population, decline in church attendance, financial support, shortage of priests, youth participation, as well as the number and state of buildings.
General support for more collaboration among adjacent parishes.
Question #2 (Three Parts)
a. Does the arrangement for the proposed pastoral zone in your area make sense?
b. Would some communities be better placed in another zone?
c. Would some communities from another zone make more sense in your zone?
Some zones had specific suggestions to maintain already established collaborations. Some raised practical questions of distance and weather. Many asked questions and appreciated clarification that the draft proposal does not foresee the priests and pastoral workers in a zone living in a single community.
Established collaborations be maintained, and unique issues and challenges in some locations require special consideration.
Does the proposed concept of a pastoral team of priests and lay ministers make sense?
This question brought out strong testimonies on the quantity and quality of lay ministries already in place. Many acknowledged that ordained priests can no longer provide pastoral ministries as in the past across the Archdiocese. Questions and comments, allowed for clarification on recruitment of qualified and suitable individuals, roles and responsibilities as well as compensation. The frank discussions will help the committee to further ensure the distinct role of priests, the potential for commissioned lay women and men, as well as vocational deacons to exercise ministries in the Archdiocese.
General appreciation of the teamwork among priests and lay people in parishes, as well as support for more lay involvement and leadership. The cost of hired lay pastoral ministers is a concern and may be an obstacle to implementing the proposed plan.
What would be the implications of implementing the proposed pastoral zone in your area?
Some expressed concern about having access to a priest for pastoral services such as marriages and funerals. Some feared that Mass would not be regularly available in their church or parish, and this initiative may bring about the slippery slope that will dissolve some parishes. Along with these cautions, some highlighted this initiative gives hope that the sacraments and pastoral support would be more available throughout the Archdiocese and it is an opportunity to refocus on evangelization and outreach ministries.
Feedback from the consultations sessions must be integrated to the revised plan.
Do you have any concerns with the feasibility of the overall proposed plan of the pastoral zone and pastoral teams?
Concerns expressed reflected the depth of concern for the future of the Church and the desire for the Committee and the Archdiocese to ensure the Strategic Plan anticipates the present and future realities and challenges.
Ensure that revisions consider all aspects, including evangelization, access to the sacraments and pastoral ministry, youth involvements and properties.
What should be the next steps in our planning process?
The most common response was to get on with it soon. There is need for urgent action.
Revise the proposed plan for consideration by the Archbishop.
Strategic Planning Committee
Pastoral Laypersons Teams & Public Meetings
The Parishioners Consulation Summary Report
Consultations and Participation Information
• Pastoral Lay Persons Teams
• Pastoral Public
October 25, 2016 - December 14, 2016
Please click on the zone number to view The Report
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St. Thomas of Villanova
St. Pius X
Mary Queen of the World
In total, 17 Parishioner Consultation Meetings were held with 1299 in attendance
An approximate 450 Parishioners took part in the Question and Answer Sessions
Combined Pastoral & Public meetings were held in St. Bride’s, Placentia and Witless Bay
200 Military Road
P.O. Box 1363
St. John’s, NL A1C 5N5
Tel: (709) 726-3660
Fax: (709) 726-8021