In January 2011, Cardinal Sean established an Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission and stated that the particular work of the Commission was to develop a recommendation for a pastoral plan for the Archdiocese that identifies the resources available for the foreseeable future. The Pastoral Plan recommended by the Commission is entitled "Disciples in Mission" and it seeks to revitalize the Church of Boston by positioning parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization. The declining numbers of people attending Church and the dwindling number of new priests being ordained each year caused the Commission to focus on a plan to enable parish communities to fulfill the Gospel mission. While identifying effective ways to foster collaboration among parishes while maintaining the distinct identity and integrity of each parish, the Commission recommended that the 288 parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston be organized into approximately 135 Parish Collaboratives, usually of two or three parishes, but sometimes only one. The collaborative parishes would retain their own identity as a parish, their own church and finances, and their own finance committee but share their parish pastoral committees. In the formation of the Parish Collaboratives the parishes were divided into seven phases, with at least fifteen collaboratives geographically distributed among the regions of the Archdiocese. At the time we had an open and productive meeting, and requested of Father Paul Soper, who had been appointed Director of the Pastoral Planning Office, that we be considered as a stand alone parish due to our sacramental index (number of sacraments celebrated each year, our financial security and our response to appeals such as the Cardinal’s Appeal). However, our request was denied and we were placed in Phase 7 as a collaborative with St. Mary Parish in Hull which would begin June 1, 2019.
Each collaborative will have a single Pastor and a Pastoral team consisting of a parochial vicar (formerly called Curate if one is available), a pastoral Associate, and each parish will have their own Religious Education Directors, Deacon and Music Directors and parish staffs. Although we have known for some time that we were in Phase 7, it was only last week that it was made known to the priests of the Archdiocese that the collaborative parish of St. Anthony and St. Mary will now be seeking a Pastor and all priests interested in the assignment are invited to apply to the Director of Priest Personnel. Fr. Mark Derrane, Pastor of St. Mary Parish and I will submit our letters of resignation, effective June 1, 2019 the date of the start of the collaborative. The first step in the process will take place on November 5 when representatives of the Archdiocese will meet with the Parish Councils, Finance Committees and Parish Staffs of the two parishes to introduce the process of collaboration to all present.
Fr John R. Mulvehill