Struggling with diminished resources, the Boston Archdiocese is continuing to look at various parishes in the region that could be merged into pastoral collaboratives - including the two in Lynnfield, and .
Speaking with a regional Patch.com editor this week, Archdiocese Spokesman Terry Donilon indicated that since early December, Boston Catholic Church officials have been consulting with priests and others in area parishes on the next phase of pastoral planning. Previous parts of this process have seen various parishes close on the North Shore and elsewhere, while others have been merged.
"The goal is to move from the current proposal stage to a plan that will guide the Archdiocese in strengthening the Archdiocese’s parish-based ministries, Evangelization efforts and parish staffing," said Donilon. "Eventually the APPC will prepare a final recommendation to Cardinal Seán for his decision. This will take time and will require an extensive consultation that gathers the input of our priests, deacons, religious and laity."
Under the pastoral collaboratives model, groups of parishes would be served by a pastor, who would oversee a pastoral services team. Donilon said that collaboratives such as these would be "centerpieces of a developing recommendation for the strengthening of parishes in the Archdiocese."
Still, Donilon also emphasized that "a final recommendation will not be made to Cardinal Sean O’Malley for the strengthening of parishes until these ideas have been fully presented and reviewed by the clergy, religious and laity during the current consultation process."
The two parishes in Lynnfield are hardly alone in the possibility that they will become part of pastoral collaboratives – a total of 61 parishes in the North Shore area appear on a list in a PDF file that appears on the Archdiocese planning2012.com website toward the bottom of this link.
Some of those criteria include geographical proximity, with many of the parishes in question no more than 1.5 miles away from each other. With many parishes experiencing financial stress, the plan also aims to have the collaboratives generate a combined weekly offertory of more than $500,000 per year, as well as enough income to cover remaining operating expenses - plus a goal that each collaborative would draw at least 1,600 attendees per weekend.
“This proposal hopes that Catholics would come to identify themselves not only as parishioners of their particular parish, but also as members of the ‘Catholic community of their town or region,’” states the document.
Under the proposal, neighboring Peabody could have four of its parishes affected under two different collaboratives. One would include the St. Adelaide and St. Ann parishes, while the other could include St. John The Baptist and Our Lady of Fatima, also in Peabody, with Saint Thomas the Apostle in Salem – which has a total of five parishes appearing on the list.
In Wakefield, St. Joseph, St. Florence and Most Blessed Sacrament are all on the list for a possible collaborative, while St. Theresa in North Reading and St. Patrick in Stoneham also make the list, but do not appear to be grouped in with other churches at this point. In neighboring Lynn, five current parishes could be merged into three pastoral collaboratives, one of which would also include Blessed Sacrament and St. Margaret in Saugus.