More Frequently Asked Questions

SJSP Collaborative Logo_SmallFollowing are the Frequently Asked Questions  published weekly in the St. John and St. Paul bulletins and websites beginning in May, 2014: 

May 4, 2014
QUESTION 1: The St. John and St. Paul Parish Councils have requested that our Collaborative be included in Phase III of the Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston. How will the Archdiocese determine which Collaboratives are included in Phase III? When will we find out if we are in Phase III? 

The Office of Pastoral Planning, together with the Secretariat for Parish Life and Leadership and the Vicar General, will develop a list of possible Phase III Collaboratives. This list will be brought to Cardinal Sean for his final approval. Phase III Collaboratives will be announced throughout the spring and summer of 2014 and will be formally launched in June 2015.

May 11, 2014
QUESTION 2: What can the St. John and St. Paul communities do now to prepare for the formal launch of the Collaborative? 

Preparations are already underway. Over a year ago, an Inter-Parish Committee comprised of parishioners from St. John and St. Paul was formed. This group has been meeting monthly to plan for the upcoming Collaborative, and is in communication with the Office of Pastoral Planning in the Archdiocese. Information regarding the Collaborative gets printed in both parishes’ weekly bulletins, and is always available on both websites under a Collaborative News tab. Members of the St. John’s and the St. Paul’s Parish Councils have attended and actively participated in one another’s Parish Council meetings. Additionally, many St. John’s and St. Paul’s parishioners have increasingly enjoyed the array of social, educational, and religious events at one another’s churches. Going forward, we will continue to provide up-to-date information on the Collaborative in the bulletins and on the web sites as it becomes available. Additionally, we will host open meetings to provide timely, accurate information when our Collaborative is formally announced.

May 18, 2014
QUESTION 3:  If St. John’s and St. Paul’s are forming a Collaborative, does this mean that one of the churches in Wellesley will be closing?

No! Both St. John’s and St. Paul’s will remain open, which is a key benefit of the new Pastoral Collaborative program. It is helpful to think of our two-parish Collaborative as an “affiliation of parishes” – not a new parish. St. John’s and St. Paul’s will each maintain its own identity – each with its own name, buildings, canonical rights, bank accounts, books, financial assets, and financial obligations.

May 25, 2014
QUESTION 4:  Both St. John’s and St. Paul’s have schools. How will our Parish schools be impacted by the Collaborative? 

Parish schools will remain Parish schools. St. John’s School will remain St. John’s School and St. Paul’s School will remain St. Paul’s School. The principals of both schools will be members of our Collaborative’s Leadership Team*. Both School Boards will take part in training programs and members of both school communities will be represented in our Local Pastoral Plan.

*The Collaborative’s Leadership Team will be comprised of the following individuals: the Pastor, Parochial Vicar(s), Deacon(s), Finance & Operations Manager, Pastoral Associate, Director of Ministries, and School Principals.

June 1, 2014
QUESTION 5: Once the St. John and St. Paul Collaborative is underway, how will the Collaborative be managed?

The Office of Pastoral Planning for the Archdiocese of Boston has designed the following leadership model to implement the Pastoral Plan:


June 8, 2014
QUESTION 6:  Please discuss the process which will be used for selecting a Pastor for our Collaborative, and the role of the local Parish communities in that process.

Since we have now been selected as a Phase III Collaborative, Father Rafferty and Father Powers will send their letters of resignation in October 2014 to Cardinal Sean, to become effective in June 2015. St. John’s and St. Paul’s will be listed as “open” in the Officials section of The Pilot and any priest who wants to apply for the position of Pastor may do so. The Regional Bishop, the Vicar Forane, the Director of Clergy Personnel, and possibly a member of the Clergy Personnel Board, will come to a joint meeting of our Council and Staff members, to get their input regarding Pastor selection. The Clergy Personnel Board will then discuss the candidates and develop a list of names for Cardinal Sean’s consideration. Cardinal Sean will make his appointment, probably by mid-January of 2015.

June 15, 2014
QUESTION: I am a parishioner at St. Paul whose children have attended both St. Paul’s and St. John’s schools. My question is: given the declining enrollments of both St. John’s and St. Paul’s schools, is any consideration being given to merging the schools?

Beginning with the formal launch of our collaborative a pastoral service team will be established, and a pastoral plan will be developed for the 2 parishes in the collaborative. This plan will cover all aspects of the parishes, including the schools, so any merger or collaboration between the 2 schools could be part of that plan as it evolves over time, and the parish and school communities will have input on all aspects of the plan, including the parts of the plan dealing with the schools. In addition, the Archdiocese is very supportive of parish schools and the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese will be involved in any decisions made with respect to the schools.

June 22, 2014
QUESTION 7: Can you share some of the difficulties that the Phase I and II Parishes have experienced as they have entered into the formal Collaborative process? And what lessons has the Archdiocese learned from the experiences of the Phase I and Phase II Parishes?

In the Parishes where there was little or no advance preparation, or negative advance preparation—the formation and development of the Collaborative has been greatly impeded. Forming new Pastoral Teams is a complex process. Choosing the right team for the mission is a necessity. Collaborative Pastors have enormous responsibilities and need to have a strong support team in place in order to accomplish their objectives. The Archdiocese has learned that forming Collaboratives is a slow process that takes time and planning to get right. As a result, the process has been elongated, to allow more time for advance preparation.  It is important to choose a good leadership team, very early. The Pastor needs an excellent Executive Assistant, Finance and Operations Manager, and Director of Ministries. The Pastor must delegate as much as possible. It is critical to have as many people as possible participate fully and actively in the training program. As with most endeavors, it helps to be creative.

June 29, 2014
QUESTION 8: Is there anything that St. John and St. Paul parishes should avoid doing in the lead-up to the formal launch of our Collaborative?

The Office of Pastoral Planning has recommended that we should not invest money on meeting or residential space, without first having done a Collaborative space study. Additionally, we must not neglect to inform new hires of the details of the Collaborative process and the role they may play in the new Collaborative.

July 6, 2014
QUESTION 9: How will our Parish Councils and Finance Councils change once the St. John and St. Paul Collaborative is launched?

There will be one Pastoral Council for both Parishes, to advise the one Pastor and to oversee the implementation of the one Local Pastoral Plan. However, each Parish will have its own Finance Council, to oversee the financial accounts, assets, and obligations of each individual Parish. The two Finance Councils
will come together regularly and hold joint meetings.

July 13, 2014
QUESTION 10: How is evangelization part of the Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston?

Evangelization is the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ. Cardinal Sean, echoing the teaching of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, has repeatedly emphasized that the Church will only be strengthened to the extent that every practicing Catholic embraces the “New Evangelization,” the work of reaching out to Catholics who are not currently active in the Church. Evangelization is a component of the Parish Collaborative Process because Evangelization and Collaboration are two critical ways which will enable the mission of Christ and the Catholic Church to grow stronger. We all know Catholics in Wellesley and elsewhere who have drifted away from the Catholic Church. To make our Catholic community stronger, we need to find ways to welcome our brothers and sisters back to active practice of the faith.

July 20, 2014
QUESTION 11: If evangelization is a critical component of the Parish Collaborative Process, what does it mean to be an
evangelizing parish?

Evangelization (reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Jesus Christ) is a component of the parish Collaborative Process because evangelization and collaboration are two ways to enable the mission of Christ and the Catholic Church to grow stronger. To make our Catholic community stronger, we need to find ways to welcome our brothers and sisters back to active practice of the faith. Evangelizing parishes exercise what is called “radical hospitality.” They are always mindful of the lost. They pay careful attention to what they look like to people coming through the door for the first time. They make excellent and bold use of social media. They are committed to forming disciples, who in turn form other disciples. They have a strong focus on adult religious experiences, and adult faith formation, especially in small groups. We all know Catholics in Wellesley and elsewhere who have drifted away from the Catholic Church. To make our Catholic community stronger, we need to find ways to welcome our brothers and sisters back to active practice of the faith.

July 27, 2014
QUESTION: What exactly is a pastoral team and what does this mean for our Collaborative? Will our Collaborative get more than one priest? Will we get more than one Pastor?

The “Team within a Team” concept is an organizational structure that is going to be implemented in every Collaborative in the Archdiocese. The “team” will be composed of priests selected from all over the Archdiocese and the lay people will come from within the parishes of a given Collaborative. It is certain that
there will only be one Pastor for each Collaborative, including the St. John/St. Paul Collaborative. There may, however, be more than one Deacon, or Pastoral Associate. As for local governance, there will be one Parish Pastoral Council and two Finance Councils. The exact number of parishioners on each Council will be
determined by the new Pastor, with strong input from the newly formed Pastoral Council of the Collaborative. Formation of our new Collaborative will be a prime time for parishioners, from both St. John’s and St. Paul’s, to join a lay ministry and help plan and implement the future of our churches.

August 3, 2014
QUESTION: What really does the future hold in terms of priests? I have not seen any projections for several years, but I strongly suspect the Archdiocese is heading toward a very serious crisis within the next decade, with not enough priests to respond to even the current level of demand for the sacraments.

Your concern for the future, in terms of the number of priests, is a major factor for the formation of Collaboratives in the Archdiocese of Boston. We are fast approaching the time when we will have too few priests to adequately cover all the churches in the Archdiocese, prompting the change to one Pastor per Collaborative. In Phase 1, as many as 4 churches were joined into 1 Collaborative having only 1 Pastor. The new Pastors of the Collaboratives will devote more of their time to ecclesiastical matters and less of their time to administrative duties which can be performed more efficiently by properly trained lay people. This transition will require more participation from the lay ministries in the daily operation of the church.

August 10, 2014
QUESTION: Why hasn’t it been announced that Father Powers will retire next year and Father Rafferty will become the Pastor?

It is not yet known who will be the Pastor of our Collaborative. Among the parishes which started their Collaboratives in Phase I and II, about 50% have Pastors which were selected from one of the parishes in that Collaborative. It is not known whether or not Father Rafferty will be selected to be the Pastor of our Collaborative. This will be decided ultimately by Cardinal Sean O’Malley. What we do know is that Father Powers will retire sometime in 2015. This was announced in the St. John’s and St. Paul’s bulletins on May 11 and May 18 over the signatures of Fathers Rafferty and Powers.

 Please be sure to also see the Previous Frequently Asked Questions that were published between July and December, 2013.