Overview of “Disciples in Mission – A Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston”

On August 30, 2012 the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission (APPC) released their proposed Pastoral Plan – Disciples in Mission – A Pastoral Plan for the  Archdiocese of Boston, which was officially accepted by Cardinal Sean in November, 2012.  The plan outlines specific recommendations for the future of the Archdiocese,  as well as the principles that guided the APPC’s work and the process by which they came to these recommendations.

Following are some key excerpts from the plan – be sure to read the entire text by clicking on one of the links:

The Pastoral Plan recommended by the APPC is entitled Disciples in Mission.  It seeks to revitalize the Church in Boston by positioning our parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization, the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ Jesus… 

Because of the centrality of the parish in Catholic life, the Planning Commission conducted extensive studies of the parishes in the archdiocese and led widespread consultations of all the faithful. These studies and consultations identified many serious challenges facing our parishes. Three challenges that are particularly noteworthy are the continuing decline in participation by Catholics in their parishes; fewer priests, religious, and trained laity available for parochial service; and an increasing number of parishes that are unable to sustain themselves financially. Our studies and consultations also clearly evidenced many strengths in our parish communities. Among these we note an increasing desire among parishes to share their resources for mutual benefit, a greater consciousness of our God-given responsibility to bring our brothers and sisters back to the active practice of the faith, and a real willingness to make the commitment of time and resources to receiving training in parish leadership and management, and the theology and best practices of the New Evangelization…  

By focusing on the strengthening of parish communities, we seek to place emphasis on sustaining our parishes as Eucharistic communities of faith and enabling them to witness to an even greater degree to the Catholic culture of communion and mission in the world.

The APPC proposes that the 288 parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston be organized into approximately 135 Parish Collaboratives, these collaboratives consisting usually of two or three parishes, but sometimes only one, and, in rare occasions four parishes.  

The design of the parish collaboratives should uphold the following principles:

  • The parish collaboratives support the unity and identity of each parish, while at the same time encouraging the parish communities to work together for the common good and the mission of the new evangelization.
  • Each parish retains its identity and integrity as a distinct canonical entity, with its own name, church building, and responsibility for its own income, assets, resources, facilities, and financial obligations. The collaboratives do not result in combining the assets and/or liabilities of parishes.
The full text of the Pastoral Plan, which includes important details and timelines for this process, can be found here:  Disciples in Mission.