The Archdiocese of New York has announced the creation of a 40-person Archdiocesan Advisory Group, as part of the next stage in its pastoral planning process, Making All Things New, an archdiocesan-wide initiative for its parishes and people to help shape the future of the Catholic Church in the archdiocese.
The Archdiocesan Advisory Group, which consists of 20 lay and religious members and 20 clergy from all regions of the archdiocese, will review the recommendations now being prepared by the 368 parishes in 75 parish clusters. The parishes and parish clusters have been working since September 2013 to examine all aspects of parish life and recommend the changes they feel need to be made. These parish cluster recommendations will be carefully studied by the Advisory Group, with the possibility of further modification and input from the clusters, before final recommendations are presented to Cardinal Dolan in June.
Cardinal Dolan thanked all those who are involved in the Making All Things New process. “The level of participation is excellent,” the Cardinal said, “as the parishioners, guided by a parish core team which includes the pastor, one trustee and three members of the parish community, have taken charge and are preparing to help lead the way for the future of our Church.” The Cardinal noted that the goal of Making All Things New is a vibrant, energetic Church that meets the needs of the people.
He said, “As Pope Francis has reminded us, our parishes must be alive, attractive, and capable of bringing people closer to Jesus and His Church. Strengthening our parishes to accomplish this is what Making All Things New is all about. In all that we do, however, we must always remember that there has to be a special consideration and concern for the poor, and the parishes that serve them. Despite what some people may think, this process is not just about ‘the bottom-line,’ and the Archdiocese of New York will—we must—continue to be with our people and provide for their religious, spiritual, and sacramental needs.”
Father John J. O’Hara, the director of the Office of Strategic Pastoral Planning, conveyed the in-depth analysis that the people have been doing on the parish level. “We have asked them to take a long, hard look at all aspects of parish life, beginning with Mass attendance and participation in sacramental life,” Father O’Hara said.
“Included also is an overview of programs offered by the parish and an evaluation of their effectiveness,” Father O’Hara continued, adding that the process is addressing questions pertaining to population shifts, changing demographics, financial stability, and the maintenance and upkeep of existing facilities.
Planning is essential for the Church if it is to be able to continue to best serve its people. The Archdiocese of New York recently completed a similar planning process for its schools which, while it did result in the closing of a number of school buildings, has resulted in a stronger overall school system. And, almost every diocese across the country has already undertaken a similar pastoral planning process, or will need to do so in the future.
In the archdiocese, the local core teams have been hard at work since September, taking an in-depth look into parish life and gathering information from parishioners and parish societies. “Armed with the sacramental figures and financial statistics, the core team members have given their fellow parishioners a chance to see the parish, its strength and weaknesses, as never before,” Father O’Hara said.
The next step, already under way, involves individual parishes sharing information and ideas with surrounding parishes, who are coming together in 75 cluster groups throughout the archdiocese. The membership of these cluster groups consists of the local parish core teams, who will share the information and suggestions gathered on the parish level with the other cluster members.
Following this extensive collaboration, each cluster will submit a set of preliminary recommendations to the Archdiocesan Advisory Group. The advisory group will review the cluster findings, make their own suggestions and recommendations, and then return their findings to the clusters for further conversation and evaluation. This second round of cluster discussions will result in a list of final recommendations that will be reviewed by the advisory group for additional evaluation.
These recommendations could include:
1) collaboration, where parishes in a given cluster area will be renewed and strengthened by avoiding duplication and sharing in ministries, pastoral programs and community outreach;
2) consolidation, where several parishes will come together to form a new parish community, with the financial assets of the former parishes going to the new consolidated parish;
3) closings, where the remaining parishioners from parishes that close will be invited to join surrounding parishes, with the financial assets being distributed equally among those surrounding parishes.
In addition, the planning process will likely result in the expansion of existing parishes, and even the possible establishment of new parishes, to better meet the needs of the people in currently under-served areas of the Archdiocese.
Before making final decisions, Cardinal Dolan will review the final recommendations with the archdiocesan priests’ council and the archdiocesan consultors. The final recommendations will be presented to the Cardinal in June, with final decisions scheduled for late August or early September.
While admitting that some of the forthcoming recommendations and decisions will be painful, the Cardinal stressed that failure to act will only weaken the Church in New York. “Change is hard, and it can be especially difficult to let go of buildings and places we’ve become attached to, but the Church must be about people,” he stated. “Making All Things New is our attempt, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to carefully study our parishes, asking how they can be faithful to their sacred task of teaching, serving and sanctifying, according to the mind and heart of Christ.”
The members of the Archdiocesan Advisory Committee are listed below:
Reverend Donald Baker South Manhattan
Msgr. William Belford Staten Island
Reverend Patrick Buckley Dutchess County
Reverend Gregory Chisholm, S.J. Central Harlem
Msgr. Thomas E. Gilleece Northern Westchester/Putnam
Reverend Robert Grippo East Bronx
Msgr. John Jenik Northwest Bronx
Reverend Daniel Kearney West Manhattan
Reverend John Kearney Ulster County
Msgr. Thomas Kelly Central Westchester
Reverend Joseph LaMorte Rockland County
Msgr. Gabriel LaPaz North Manhattan
Reverend Peter Madori Sullivan County
Reverend Christopher Maloney Yonkers
Reverend Michael McLoughlin Orange County
Reverend Alfredo Monteiro South Shore Westchester
Reverend Robert Quarato Northeast Bronx
Reverend Robert Robbins East Manhattan
Reverend Ambiorix Rodriguez Northwest Bronx
Reverend Osiris Salcedo, S.D.B. South Bronx
DEACONS, RELIGIOUS AND LAY
Sister Patricia Anastasio, P.B.V.M.,Superior, Sisters of the Presentation Orange County
Deacon James Bello, Co-Director of Diaconate Program East Bronx
Juan Blanchard, Former Director of Hispanic Ministry South Bronx
Tiffani Blake South Shore
Lucy Brusco Central Westchester
Sister Margarita Castaneda, C.N.D. East Bronx
Dennis Deutmeyer Central Westchester
John Donovan East Manhattan
Nancy Doran Sullivan County
Samantha Dulaney Central Harlem
John Feerick Central Westchester
Rosemary Ginty Northwest Bronx
Dr. Al Gruner Ulster County
William Plunkett Central Westchester
Sister Dominica Rocchio, S.C. Northwest Bronx
Brother Edward Shields, F.S.C. South Manhattan
Deacon Patrick So South Manhattan
Darrell Supak Orange County
Deacon Stephen Tobon Staten Island