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 | By Bishop Earl Boyea

Mission Is the Most Important Part of Realignment Process

Well, the Realignment of Resources for Mission Committee, after a long two years of hard work, has presented to me their recommendations for our diocese. It will take me a little while to examine the materials to determine if I would like to make some tweaks to this plan. In the meantime, here are some thoughts.

Change is always tough. And this means change for our clergy. Because, fundamentally, these recommendations affect the clergy leadership of our parishes more than the status of our parishes themselves. This is really all about how our clergy can work together in more creative ways to further the mission of Jesus Christ.

Mission is the most important part of this process and probably the most difficult to achieve. As I have told my brother priests, we (including myself) were really trained to be shepherds of souls rather than fishers of men. We were trained to be planted in a parish and maintain its spiritual and physical life.

Nonetheless, each pastor is responsible for all the souls within his territory, whether they are coming to our parish church or not.

The new model of priests in solidum, that is, priests ministering in solidarity with one another, is a way to encourage us to move somewhat beyond mere maintenance. The roles of the moderator pastor, of the other pastors in the group of parishes and of potential associates in the group are being finalized. These guidelines will be the keys to beginning a process of collaboration.

We do not anticipate that all of the proposed groupings will be enacted this coming July. Rather, we want to focus on a few across our diocese in order to see how this all might work out. How will the priests, under the leadership of a moderator, pray and work and collaborate together for the building up of the body of Christ in the collective area of their grouping of parishes. However, just because only a few will begin this coming July does not mean that the other priests are let off the hook. My hope is that they will begin to work together on their own and seek to achieve some of the goals of being on mission together.

One final aspect of this process which seems appealing to me is that it is not written in stone. The in solidum model allows for future flexibility. The process of implementation will take a number of years, and in that time we may find that some arrangements can be better handled in a different way.

As you can imagine, all of this relies on good will, the burning desire to put out into the deep, and the patience of our priests. Most of them were interviewed by our Priest Assignment Board some time ago to ascertain what might be their chief desires in ministry. Some want to be more involved in the bigger direction of things and some less so. We are all very different and unique. Again, change may be the toughest for them. So, please, pray for them as well as for me. May we all Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord.