Redo the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative

“Spring” Into Action to “Redo the Area Pastoral Planning Process”!

The Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative began in 2010 with  “a pastoral letter from the Fall of 2010 which called on all parishes in the Archdiocese to determine if they possess the resources necessary to accomplish their roles in the mission of Christ while remaining sustainable and vibrant faith communities”. It continued in 2013 with an announcement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that 46 parishes would undergo this study.  St. Joachim in Frankford was among them. We maintain that this process is severely and systemically flawed because:

  • It began with a premise that a certain number of churches had to be closed rather than what could be done to bolster them or at least ask new questions and try new ideas;
  • Some pastors involved their parishioners while others felt it was a “secret” process not to be discussed;
  • Some of the representatives on the Parish and Finance Councils are handpicked by the pastors because they totally and fully agree with them, thus leaving out all points of view;
  • Surveys were only distributed at the pastor’s discretion with no hierarchical oversight to see that it was in fact done;
  • Possible conflicts of interest if pastors and deans stood to gain by churches closing;
  • There were no meetings with some Parish and Finance Councils as proposed in the process;
  • This process did not allow for full participation by each parishioner even to ask them about their ideas or possibilities of willingly merging with other parishes rather than be closed;
  • The stated purpose of this planning process was for the “salvation of souls” and it failed as many “souls” are now lost and looking elsewhere for a spiritual home; and
  • Some communities (as Frankford) were left without any Catholic church after 160+ years of the faithful being faithful to their God and church.

While Vatican appeals were able to be filed, many do not have the resources to be able to do that. We know that churches had to be closed as for many years we were blessed with an abundance of them geographically close.

But such things cannot be dictated or done expecting that the people will just “accept” these decisions as being final – when they were never involved.

In June, 2013, 24 parishes were closed or merged.  More closures are expected this spring. It’s time for Philly Catholics to make their voices heard for the good of our faith.


3 replies on ““Spring” Into Action to “Redo the Area Pastoral Planning Process”!”

This rally sounds like a good idea. What good might this do? What do you hope to accomplish? I wish you all the best!

Thank you for commenting. I’m glad you think it “sounds like a good idea”. Will you be able to join us? If not, please call the Archdiocese at 215.587.3600 and ask for Archbishop Chaput. If he’s not available, politely leave a message asking him to redo the parish area pastoral planning initiative if you support us. If you don’t, I’m glad you’ve asked these questions and I appreciate your interest. Unfortunately, within the Archdiocese, real discourse is frowned upon, if not downright disallowed.

What good might it do? It might show that there are other Catholics who feel like we do, that we have a voice and have not been heard. We are supportive of the Archbishop yet he refuses to even talk with us.

What do we want to accomplish? This Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative has systemic flaws. We know some churches had to close. But some did not. The process was not implemented fairly as a lot was left up to the discretions of the deans and pastors what would happen. That’s the quick answer – for now. Also, rather than closing churches, we should be asking more creative questions – how/where can we get more priests? How can the laity help in the administration/operation of a parish? You can’t really evangelize if you’re closing churches. The areas most in need of a Catholic church are the very places the Archdiocese is abandoning. We, St. Joachim, have filed a Vatican appeal that’s at the doorstep of the Apostolic Signatura (Vatican Supreme Court) but believe that this issue is key to the future direction of the Archdiocese. We had 2 churches in Frankford – now have none and, in effect, the Archdiocese has abandoned those most in need. Both ourselves and Mater Dolorosa were not in debt, we had an Oblate pastor and both of our schools were rented. We are just 1 example of other viable churches now being used to settle financial debt.

We hope to accomplish making the Archbishop aware that all is not well at home as we prepare for the World Meeting of Families in 2015. We found no one at the Archdiocese who would talk with us seriously about our concerns other than ask us to “please accept this decision” and, yet, we had no voice in it.

We learned that you can’t be an “island” – even if it’s a very pleasant one. Pope Francis wants all of us to engage with our communities and with others of faith and bring along the rest. We need to connect and the present model keeps parishes pretty much isolated. We are all one body!

God bless you!

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