The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has reviewed recommendations of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee and made decisions regarding five parishes taking part in the ongoing Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative.
The parishes are from Pastoral Planning Area 570: Mother of Divine Grace, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady Help of Christians, Saint Adalbert, and Saint George. The resulting plan will be implemented in two phases given the number of components and parishes involved.
Phase one will take effect in June 2016. At that time, Our Lady Help of Christians Parish will be merged into Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. At the same time Mother of Divine Grace Parish will partner (the definition of a partner parish is provided in detail below) with Saint George Parish.
In phase two, which will take place by June 2017, a partnership will be completed between the newly merged Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Mother of Divine Grace Parish and Saint George Parish.
Saint Adalbert Parish will remain a free standing parish.
The planning process for PPA 570 focused on possible restructuring of the parishes, not the schools. Since the school is a part of the teaching mission of the parish, it is anticipated that the parishes will continue to assess the viability of their schools at the local level.
Contextual Background on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Process
In the fall of 2010, a pastoral letter was issued to parishioners throughout the Archdiocese. It outlined the necessity of an in-depth examination of all parishes in order to gauge whether they possessed the necessary resources to remain vibrant and sustainable faith communities. This process, known as Parish Area Pastoral Planning, is designed to be as collaborative and consultative as possible. Its goal is to provide pastors, after consulting their lay parish leadership and parishioners, with the opportunity to dialogue with members of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee in providing joint recommendations for parish growth and sustainability within their respective geographic areas.
During the process additional steps are taken to be as inclusive as possible. In the majority of cases, the regional bishop and dean meet with pastors as well as their pastoral and finance councils to hear their concerns and receive their recommendations which are brought before the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, the Council of Priests and the College of Consultors for their observations and recommendations. Input and consultation from of all these groups is provided to the Archbishop.
Mother of Divine Grace Parish, Nativity Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Saint Adalbert Parish and Saint George Parish (PPA 570):
The Parish Planning Committee for PPA 570 has been meeting since October 2014 to formulate a proposal by which the five parishes could possibly be reduced to two or three parishes. In March 2015, the parishes reported to the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee that despite making a good faith effort they were not able to reach a consensus on a recommendation.
In October 2015, the PPA 570 Committee was asked to reconvene to continue deliberations toward developing a plan to restructure the five parishes. In reconvening the PPA 570 Committee and the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee provided two restructuring options for the group to discuss and deliberate, with the direction to pick the one that the Committee believed would provide the best plan for restructuring the parishes in the area. Each option included a combination of mergers and partnerships.
A partnership is a model newly-introduced to the planning process in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but is being used in other dioceses. Partnership differs from merger in that the partnering parishes each remain open and retain parish status. What changes with partner parishes is that one pastor, one Pastoral Council, and one staff serve the parishes in the partnership. However, since each parish in the partnership remains a parish, each of the partner parishes retains its own finances and Finance Council. The partnership model is presented to help the involved parishes realize efficiencies in operation, to pool resources for more effective evangelization, and to address the issue of decreasing priest personnel throughout the Archdiocese.
The recommendation announced today was submitted to the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee and was discussed by the Archdiocesan Council for Priests before being submitted to Archbishop Chaput.
There are 219 parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, comprised of 44 Pastoral Planning Areas (PPAs). For more information on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning, please visit http://archphila.org/conversion/conversion_index.php.