St. Peter Hancock
Fr. Jack Lombardi, pastor
St. John Columbia
Fr. Gerry Bowen, pastor
Our Lady of Victory
Fr. John Rapisarda, pastor
St. Philip Neri – St. Clement
Fr. Michael DeAscanis, pastor
Holy Family Randallstown
Fr. Ray Harris, pastor
St. Michael – St. Clement Mary Hofbauer – Annunciation
Friar Tim Dore, pastor
St. John Hydes
Fr. Pete Literal, pastor
St. Andrew by the Bay
Fr. Jeff Dauses, pastor
St. Wenceslaus – St. Ann – St. Francis Xavier
Rev. Xavier Edet, S.S.J., pastor
Fr. Bernie Carman, S.A.C., pastor
PLANNING IN A PANDEMIC
The Pastorate of St. Peter & St. Patrick
We recognize that these past several months have been extraordinary. Pastorates have had to pivot, pastors have had to become videographers, and we all wish we had stock in Zoom! There are so many new tasks to be done and information to be processed, that some would put conversations about planning on the bottom of the “to do” list. However, some of our pastorates rightly believe that planning is even more important in times like these.
One such pastorate is St. Peter (Hancock) and St. Patrick (Little Orleans), led by Fr. Jack Lombardi. This planning team continued with weekly virtual planning meetings, starting soon after the cessation of gathered Masses in mid-March. Internet can be spotty out in Western Maryland, particularly in Little Orleans, so the team adapted to this by having some members call into the Zoom meetings with their phones. Updates and minutes from the gatherings were emailed or mailed to the team weekly so that all could fully participate in the planning sessions.
They have put together their plan goals with barriers, critical success factors and strategies that include actions to be taken during this crisis and longer term strategies. The planning team was pleased with the connection that the virtual meetings afforded, and enjoyed praying together at the sessions and dreaming of the future for the pastorate. They had the opportunity to discern those new activities that the crisis has produced that they want to keep doing, even when they return to whatever the “new normal” will be.
– Julie St. Croix
Finding Value in Pastorate Planning
Evangelization-based planning looks different in every pastorate because every pastorate begins that experience from a different starting point and with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. However, there are a few aspects of pastorate planning that provide value and benefit across the spectrum. Below are a few of the more commonly recognized benefits.
- Workshops and meetings that engage parishioners in telling their stories and help them dream about the future;
- A prayerful and engaging structure for evangelization-based strategic planning;
- A process adapted to the unique needs of the pastorate, with formation and training offered as needed;
- Facilitation of the process by a professional who accompanies the pastor and planning team throughout the experience;
- Compilation of the plan so that team members and parishioners can understand and co-own it;
- Regular opportunities to learn from and share with the other pastors in the cohort throughout the experience;
- Partnerships with Catholic Center staff to support the implementation of the strategic plan.
But don’t just take our word for it…read some of the feedback from people who have experienced it for themselves!
“Know that this group has fed me, opened my eyes to the different ‘needs’ of [our pastorate] and how our different intimate relationships with our God entwine.”
“We are lucky to have you helping us in this process.”
“I have learned so much (and taken many notes!) as you have guided us through this process. Your gifts are apparent and I am grateful for your willingness to share!”
“Thank you for all the work you put into leading and guiding our planning effort. Truly, you have a gift for dealing with copious amounts of information as well as with odd assortments of people! Thank you for your friendship and for using your gifts to ease us through an arduous process”
GROWING TOGETHER AS A COHORT
Coaching Sessions and Cohort Gatherings
Over the course of the past year, the 2019 cohort of pastorates were offered several ways to be formed by each other and their fellow co-workers in the vineyard from other pastorates.
A series of six, monthly online discussions were held on the “hallmarks of an evangelizing parish” – practices common to a parish that is mission-focused. These hallmarks were gleaned from some of the most popular parish renewal resources. For each hallmark, a guest speaker from a parish that is actively engaged in this work was invited to share their experiences and answer questions from the participants. These “hallmark” practices are examples of what the Core Mission Priorities look like in action and include:
· Planning for Discipleship;
· Focusing on the Sunday Experience;
· Creating Discipleship Pathways that Promote an Encounter with Christ;
· Creating Discipleship Pathways through Small Groups;
· Creating Missionary Disciples by Going to the Margins, Creating a Culture of Invitation, and Living the Beatitudes; and,
· Building a Culture of Stewardship for the Mission.
The entire series was recorded and can be viewed online here or by searching “Pastorate Planning” on YouTube.
Additionally, pastors and associate pastors gathered several times for Cohort Gatherings, designed to draw strength from each other and hear about the ways in which pastorate planning is unfolding in the other cohort pastorates.
They first gathered in September to kick-off their planning work with the Archbishop, then met for a full day to discuss leading with a vision. This was followed by a half-day spent digging into the topic of building strong teams and working through healthy conflict.
The four-day retreat that had been planned for the cohort pastors and associate pastors had to be postponed due to coronavirus restrictions; a rescheduled retreat is being considered for the fall, if conditions allow it. The group gathered virtually in lieu of this retreat, to share the challenges and unexpected blessings of the virus-related shut down and hear about the ways in which many pastorates were continuing their planning work remotely.
As a number of pastorates in the 2019 cohort draw to the end of their planning work, a final gathering will be scheduled to reflect back on the experience and some of the new opportunities for bringing people to Christ that have opened up for them as a result.
The Pastorate of St. Andrew by the Bay
I have had the pleasure to work with the pastorate of St. Andrew by the Bay as one of the pastorates in the 2019 Cohort. I met with Fr. Jeff Dauses and his staff leadership team in September to review the scope of the process and how it would play out for them. Fr. Jeff indicated that planning would be the focus of the pastoral council in the coming months, and that he, the council, and his staff leadership would constitute the planning team. We agreed to meet monthly at the council’s usual meeting time.
We kicked off the planning meetings in October, utilizing a previously planned council retreat day to do both the Sacred Purpose Workshop and a review of the current context for evangelization in the parish and community. St. Andrew’s also had the advantage of already having engaged in some planning work, having completed a SWOT analysis back in January. Fr. Jeff and his staff were also familiar with some of the best known works written by organizations and parishes on evangelization.
From the beginning, the team was open to allowing me to guide them through the process. Coupled with their attention and commitment, the work went smoothly and allowed them to progress quickly. From that initial meeting, we met monthly for two hours to consider topics in setting direction that included vision, goals and objectives, critical success factors and barriers, strategies, and then discerning priority strategies.
Fr. Jeff indicated that he found it very helpful having the process facilitated by someone from outside the pastorate, as it both allowed him to see where his team would take it, and to participate. After taking a month off for Easter in April, the team met for their final planning meeting in May, via Zoom, to discuss implementation and monitoring. In total we had met seven times over eight months, and they are now putting the final touches on their plan. The pastorate is looking forward to working on implementation in earnest in the fall, and I look forward to continuing to provide them assistance, and link them up with resources to implement their plan.
– Mike Downes