November 15, 2012 - Cardinal Announces Acceptance of Pastoral Plan for Archdiocese

New Evangelization at Heart of Plan - Disciples in Mission

Braintree, MA (November 15, 2012) – Following an extensive and collaborative consultation process, Cardinal Seán O’Malley announced his formal acceptance of Disciples in Mission – A Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston.  The plan approved today is the result of nearly six years of work that was developed over the past two years by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission (APPC).  The APPC is a commission of 19 members appointed by the Cardinal and Co-Chaired by Msgr. William Fay and Deacon Chuck Clough.  The APPC gathered input from priests, religious, deacons, staff and parishioners from across the Archdiocese which resulted in the plan announced today.

Cardinal Seán said, “Today, with gratitude for the significant time and effort many have given to this important work, I give my formal acceptance to Disciples in Mission and commit myself and the resources of the Archdiocese to the implementation of this plan.”  He added, “It is my strong conviction that Disciples in Mission will establish the foundation to allow us to continue the work of renewing the Church in the Archdiocese of Boston and go forward with the mission of the New Evangelization for many years to come.”

Disciples in Mission

The Pastoral Plan groups the parishes of the Archdiocese into approximately 135 collaboratives.  Each parish maintains its own identity in the collaboratives.  Each parish retains its buildings, its canonical rights, its financial assets and obligations. The collaborative will have one Pastor who will work with one Pastoral Team, one Parish Pastoral Council and one Parish Finance Council.  Together they will develop a pastoral plan for their local collaborative, focused on serving the needs of the parishes in their local collaborative and advancing the mission of the New Evangelization.  The formation of the parish collaboratives will be phased in, with appropriate flexibility, over a period of five years.  Pastors, pastoral teams, and councils of each parish collaborative will participate in extensive theological and practical training for the New Evangelization.  The first list of parishes being grouped will be announced in January 2013.  For a full review of the plan and for additional information please visit

Msgr. William Fay, Co-Chair of the APPC and pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton said, “We have a big task before us, and it will take firm commitment, unyielding dedication, lots of hard work, openness to the continuing workings of the Spirit, and an extraordinary generosity of heart on the part of the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese to make this pastoral plan work.  But I am convinced it will work, because it is precisely these qualities that characterize the faithful of the Archdiocese; and also because our parishes are the best thing we have going. 

Parishes are the heart of Disciples in Mission, because, as Cardinal Seán frequently tells us, parishes are by their very nature the centers for Evangelization.”

Director of Pastoral Planning Named

Bishop-Elect Robert Deeley, Vicar General and Moderator of Curia, announced that Interim Director of Pastoral Planning, Rev. Paul Soper, has been appointed permanent Director.  Born and raised in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1963, Fr. Soper is a graduate of Weymouth North High School and Harvard University in 1985.

He entered St. John Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.  Following assignment at parishes in Wellesley, Lowell, Revere and Danvers he was named Pastor of Blessed Mother Teresa Calcutta Parish in Dorchester in 2004.  Since 2009 he has served as Pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish in Weymouth.

In commenting about Fr. Soper’s contributions to Disciples in Mission, Bishop-Elect Deeley said, “Fr. Soper has refined and developed a well-conceived and comprehensive implementation strategy for mission.  He has been a force of energy and competence, and he has the complete confidence of the Cardinal in his work.”

Fr. Soper said, “We believe that Parish based evangelization programs work, and that we can train for evangelization, as well as for leadership, management, and the mechanics of working as a collaborative.  Therefore, we will be mounting a major program of training.”  He added, “I am very pleased to be a part of Cardinal Seán’s team for the implementation of the Pastoral Plan.  I am convinced, and am filled with hope by that conviction, that this plan will have a significant impact on the life and vitality of the Church of Boston for years to come.”

Regarding Pastoral Planning, Bishop-Elect Deeley said, “This is a great day in the life of the Archdiocese.  Much consultation and work has gone into a pastoral plan for evangelization that will have a positive and lasting impact on our local Church.” 

In speaking about the importance of Evangelization to Pastoral Planning, Cardinal Seán said, “In concert with our Pastoral Planning efforts, Auxiliary Bishop Arthur Kennedy, Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization, is developing and promoting programs for strengthening the Catholic faith in the Archdiocese.  Among the initiatives being overseen by Bishop Kennedy is the Theological Initiative for the New Evangelization at St. John’s Seminary.  His work and leadership will be essential to insuring a productive implementation across the many ministries of the Archdiocese.”

Auxiliary Bishop Arthur Kennedy, Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization, said, “With Cardinal O’Malley’s decision today, he presents us with a further stage in the fulfillment of his original vision of rebuilding the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Boston; this vision incorporates the continuing renewal of the Church that was set forward in the Second Vatican Council and in the Papacies of Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI - namely the re-evangelization of the Church and the cultures in which it lives throughout the world. The Cardinal’s vision that the “New Evangelization” in the Archdiocese of Boston will have its soul in our parishes is at the heart of his plan and it is what the recent Synod of the Church identified as the intention of the Christ’s teaching in the Gospels.”

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 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 288 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