December 5, 2011 -- Cardinal and Priests Begin Consultation Process on Pastoral Planning*

Calls for New Evangelization focused on Christ 

Braintree, MA – Today, December 5, Cardinal Seán O’Malley and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission (APPC) met with priests of the Archdiocese of Boston and those serving in Archdiocesan parishes to begin the consultation process regarding the next phase of Pastoral Planning in the archdiocese.  As part of the consultation process, the APPC has developed some principles and preliminary recommendations for strengthening the Archdiocese’s parish-based ministries, Evangelization efforts and parish staffing.  Further rounds of consultations with Archdiocesan, parish leadership and laity will be conducted over the next several months.  The APPC will then prepare a final recommendation to Cardinal Seán for his decision.  For more information, please visit

The APPC’s working document, Disciples in Mission, proposes a vision for the archdiocese that flows directly from the mission that Jesus Christ has given to His Church, namely, to bring His Gospel to all the nations. An important principle of the document is to form stronger parish communities that embrace the Church’s mission of evangelization, faith formation, outreach and service. 

In his talk with his priests, the Cardinal stated his commitment to fulfilling the promise of pastoral planning saying, “We need a New Evangelization and it must be focused on Christ.  As Pope Paul VI told us almost a half-century ago in Evangelii Nuntiandi, ‘There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed’ (EN22).”  The Cardinal added, “We need to bring the life-giving truth and person of Jesus Christ to the men and women of our own day, especially those who have known Christ and His Church but have grown cool in their relationship with him and with her.”  Building on the great opportunity before the Archdiocese, Cardinal Seán said, “What you are being presented with is a proposal, a plan that has been developed to respond to the needs of our faith community.  Central to all of this is our own vocation to be pastors, to be spiritual fathers to God’s people.”  The Cardinal noted that the proposal does not present a plan for the global closure or merging of parishes, but a call for a slow, deliberate and organic approach that is mission driven.  

The eighteen-member APPC has been meeting for ten months.  As announced in February 2011, the work of the commission is “to present a final recommendation to the Cardinal for a pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Boston that identifies the resources available for the foreseeable future and allocates these resources in a manner that will allow the mission of Christ and his Church to grow stronger in our Catholic community.”  Cardinal Seán has asked that the recommendation presented to him “be based upon consultations with the clergy, religious and laity, to reflect the depth and breadth of the archdiocese.”

The Cardinal appointed as co-chairs of the commission Monsignor William Fay, pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, and Deacon Charles Clough of Holy Family Parish in Concord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Clough Capital Partners LP.

Rev. Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston, said, “Through the leadership of our priests, the collaborative involvement of our parishioners, and with God’s grace, we will be successful in assisting the Cardinal in shaping the future direction of the Archdiocese for decades to come.  We are blessed by the extraordinary contributions of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission.  In particular we thank co-chairs Msgr. William Fay and Deacon Chuck Clough for leading this effort, in partnership with Fr. David Couturier, OFM. Cap. and his staff in the Office of Pastoral Planning.  The Cardinal will guide us through this consultation process and I am confident that we will implement a plan that supports our priests, deacons and parish staff members in serving the pastoral needs of 1.8 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston for years to come.”

In a joint statement, Msgr. Fay and Deacon Clough said, “We are grateful to Cardinal Seán for the confidence, support and leadership he has provided to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission in its work these past many months.  This is a collaborative effort.  Through a strong consultation process, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission hopes it can serve the Archdiocese and the Cardinal by listening to the Catholic community, incorporating their input, and producing a final recommendation that brings together the community’s hopes and goals.”

The Cardinal thanked the priests of the Archdiocese for participating in the convocation today.  He said, “Your presence here today is important – and a grace – for at least two reasons.  First, today begins a months-long consultation on a proposal to strengthen our parishes for generations to come.  I need to hear what you, our priests and pastors, have to say about this proposal.  Second, our presence together in dialogue and in service to the Archdiocese is a beautiful manifestation of the sacramental bond we share in the sacred ministry of priesthood through Holy Orders.  I pray that our work together today will strengthen that bond between us.”

The Pastoral Plan Proposal

One element of the preliminary recommendations is a new staffing model for archdiocesan parishes.  The APPC’s idea is to create a structure called a Pastoral Service Team (PST) to provide pastoral services to multiple parishes.  The Pastoral Service Team would be comprised of a group of priests, deacons, pastoral associates and lay ecclesial ministers, who provide pastoral services to multiple parishes.  Because of shared ministerial leadership and shared finance & pastoral councils, the parishes would collaborate with each other on some ministries such as evangelization, faith formation and outreach.  This proposed new structure does not call for the closing of any parishes.  Rather, it focuses on the means by which pastoral services are provided in and to our parishes, and through collaborating on ministries, allows the Catholic community within an area of the Archdiocese to benefit from a broader set of local Catholic ministries.  Each pastoral collaborative, served by a PST, would be charged with the development of a local pastoral plan to best serve the Catholics in that particular area of the Archdiocese.   

In summary, the preliminary recommendation puts forward for consultation:

  • The creation of approximately 120-130 pastoral collaboratives and Pastoral Service Teams to provide ministerial leadership and services to them.  The precise nature and number of pastoral collaboratives/PSTs will be determined as a result of the consultation process.  All 290 archdiocesan parishes will be served by one of these PSTs.
  • In each local area (pastoral collaborative), the Pastoral Service Team, in consultation and discernment with their parish councils and parishioners, will develop a local Pastoral Plan for how best to utilize and apportion their resources, property and facilities to strengthen the parishes as Eucharistic communities rooted in Jesus Christ and to advance the multi-faceted mission of the Church.

The materials presented to the priests will be available at Tuesday, December 6th.  Also available on the website will be video of the comments delivered at the convocation by the Cardinal, Msgr. Fay and Rt. Rev. Jack Ahern who is pastor of 3 parishes in Dorchester.

400 priests attended the convocation today in addition to seminarians, APPC members and staff from the Archdiocese.

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 290 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit