Disciples in Mission Pastoral Planning

The Matthew 13 Catholic Collaborative has undertaken the pastoral planning process as outlined by the Archdiocese of Boston’s Disciples in Mission Pastoral Plan. As the Pastoral Planning Team develops the elements of the plan, they will post them here in draft and final forms for the benefit of the parishes and to receive feedback. If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please the form at the bottom of this page. Thank you.

Update: December 30, 2015

We have progressed in the Pastoral Planning process to creating our S.M.A.R.T. goals. Each priority will have two goals associated with it. S.M.A.R.T. means that the goal is Specific and measurable; Motivating; Attainable; Relevant; and Trackable or time-based. The goal should have a defined Action, Outcome and Date to be accomplished. With our four Priorities, this means that we will have eight Goals for our first three-year Plan.

To be clear, if we accomplish a goal before the end of the Plan, there’s nothing that prevents us from setting another goal. Also, the goals are not exclusive and do not encompass everything that our parishes do. The life of the parishes and school in our liturgies, ministries, and customary and traditional activities will continue unabated. What makes these goals different is that they have been identified as the way we will move as a parish toward the aims of Disciples in Mission and the New Evangelization and so we will devote our primary resources here.

And as before, this is still a draft plan, which still needs to be finalized and then presented to Cardinal Seán for his changes and approval. Only then will the plan will be implemented in its final form. You can find our draft SMART goals at the bottom of this page.

Update: September 9, 2015

The process of writing a Pastoral Plan for the Matthew 13 Collaborative, as well as collaborative leadership training for the staff, continued at the end of September. The Pastoral Plan process has moved from the preliminary stages to the important goal writing stage. After setting the four priorities for the collaborative over the three years the plan will be in effect, the plan team will set two goals for each priority that are specific, measurable, motivational, relevant, and time-based. (The priorities are where the collaborative puts its primary emphasis in resources, and are in addition to all the other work of the parishes and school that is ongoing.)

During this phase of pastoral planning, Fr. Chip and members of the plan writing team will schedule time to meet with groups of parishioners and members of the school community to brief them on the planning process and answer questions. The team will then compile the goals into a draft plan that will be presented to Cardinal Seán for his initial response. At Fr. Chip’s request, the collaborative has been exempted from the deadline previously set for Phase II collaboratives because of the changes we’ve undergone this past summer.

Update: August 31, 2015
The work of pastoral planning as part of the Disciples in Mission collaborative process has continued through the summer. To recap where we are, one year after Cardinal Seán created the Matthew 13 Collaborative, a team of parishioners and staff from both parishes was gathered by Fr. Chip to begin the training to write the Three-Year Pastoral Plan that is at the heart of our collaborative efforts. This plan will guide us as we work to revitalize our parishes, to reinvigorate our community and carry out Jesus’s great commission to evangelize the world around us. As Labor Day draws near, this team has completed the first part of its task, which is to develop a Collaborative Purpose, Values, Vision Statement, and Priorities. The next phase will be to draft the overall Plan, including specific goals, over the next six months for Cardinal Seán’s approval next Spring. We’d like to present our draft of these first four elements to the parishes for your comment before we begin our next phase in September. We welcome all feedback on the progress of our pastoral plan, but we remind you that nothing is yet set in stone and we will present a completed pastoral plan to the collaborative at the end of the process.

First, we’d like to thank the members of the pastoral plan writing team for their work: Fr. Chip Hines, Fred Corcoran, Louise Fahey, Maggi Taurone, Karen Brady, Martin Murphy, Jennifer Roy, Andrea Berry, and Domenico Bettinelli.

The following were created using guidelines from the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Planning office and the Catholic Leadership Institute.

Purpose

Our Collaborative purpose is to use our enthusiasm and love of Christ to inspire the people of Walpole to love each other, to love God in a personal relationship, to hear our calling through prayerful discernment, to enable us to go out and make disciples so that others may have the same love and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Values

Faith

Definition: We are a community of faith, worshipping and praying together, relying on the Lord to provide grace sufficient to do His will and remaining open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit through a continual process of prayerful discernment.

Examples of ways we will live out faith:

  • We will offer opportunities for faith formation for all ages and stages of the Christian journey.
  • We will make our liturgies and other celebrations engaging, reverent and joy-filled to raise hearts and minds to God.
  • We will aid all in growing spiritually through discernment of God’s plan for their lives.
  • We will provide a variety of times and types of communal and private prayer, including Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosaries, the Divine Office, and all others that encompass the Christian prayer experience.

Fellowship & Hospitality

Definition: Recognizing our existence as the Body of Christ, we will welcome all who are willing to offer their trust, who are spiritually curious and open, or who are seeking Christ in a posture of intentional discipleship, serving one another in love and greeting and acknowledge all who join us, whether for Sunday liturgy, a social gathering, or school events.

Examples of ways we will live out faith:

  • We will serve the needs of the community of Walpole and beyond as they present themselves, bringing the love of Christ to those most in need.
  • We will invite those we encounter to consider an en- counter with Christ through a low-pressure witness to the joy and peace that comes through a committed relationship with Him.
  • We will greet and acknowledge all who enter our churches, whether for Sunday Mass, a social event, or a school gathering offering a radical hospitality based on the examples of Martha and Mary.
  • We will accompany each other on the Christian journey, on and off the campuses of our parishes and school, bringing Christ to our homes and neighborhoods and workplaces and classrooms in ways appropriate to the time and venue.

Integrity & Authenticity

Definition: We acknowledge the privileged place of the Church in people’s lives and the integral role our parishes play in their relationship with Christ. While acknowledging past failures to uphold the Church’s principles, we will place the trust of those who come to the Lord through our doors as a precious gift to be safeguarded. We will commit to integrity in all activities, individually and communally, as well as an authenticity that gives evidence of the depth of our Christian faith and practice.

Examples of ways we will live out integrity and authenticity:

  • We will be committed to Christ-like personal interactions with all those we meet.
  • We will keep in mind that all of our communications are aimed as much at non-parishioners as parishioners, avoiding jargon and insider language as much as possible.
  • We will make reports of our ministries and financial activities available on a regular and periodic basis, including a comprehensive annual report given to each parish family or other interested persons.
  • We will use the variety of tools and methods available to provide informational and formational materials to all, including print, audio, video, and social media.
  • We will continue to provide a safe environment to all as we commit to the necessary procedures and policies as required by civil authorities and the archbishop of Boston.
  • We will treat the resources entrusted to the parish by the generations that preceded us and by our fellow parishioners with respect as we ensure they are used fruitfully and prudently.

Evangelization

Definition: Taking to heart our Lord’s desire that we bring the Gospel to all, we will raise up intentional disciples from among our parishioners and school community to become active evangelizers who are equipped to share the Good News. We will provide appropriate entry points and activities where those coming to the Church for the first time or returning to the practice of their faith can encounter Christ in a loving and inviting environment.

Examples of ways we will live out evangelization:

  • We will prayerfully discern the gifts and talents God has willed for us as we equip ourselves to talk about our relationship with Christ.
  • We will nurture our faith and gifts to enable us to become effective committed disciples of Jesus Christ who have discerned and are living out our God-given mission in life. (cf. Sherry Weddell, “Forming Intentional Disciples”)
  • We will provide opportunities to engage people at every threshold of conversion, from trust and curiosity to openness and seeking to discipleship.

Vision

What will a visitor entering the doors of Blessed Sacrament or St. Mary Parish in 2022 experience after 5 years of our pastoral plan? On a Sunday, their experience will begin before they even leave their home as they review the parish web site and social media to find Mass times and directions that are clear and easy to find and are convenient for their schedule and view a video that provides a welcoming introduction to the church. They will park in the lot and as they enter the church, they will be greeted by welcoming and enthusiastic parishioners who stop to smile and say, “Good morning.” They’ll find a parish service center, where they can access the various services of the parish (Mass cards, registration, sign-up for ministries), without having to take time out of their week to come down to the office. A variety of well-designed and attractive communications will be available in printed form, as downloadable apps for their phones, or even as animated graphics on a display on the wall. Those communications will promote something at the parish and the school for every member of the family: children’s activities, faith formation programs, middle school and high school youth groups, family social gatherings, Bible studies, men’s and women’s groups, gatherings for the elderly, the grieving, and singles, and parish retreats. There are programs for those who are just curious about Christianity and Catholicism, for those who are seeking to enter the Catholic Church, for those looking to return to the practice of their faith, and for those who want to go deeper into discipleship. There’s not one, but many ministries that serve the community beyond the parish and school boundaries, reaching out to the hungry, the homebound, the homeless, the working poor, women and children at risk, and inmates at the prison at Cedar Junction.

Our visitor will walk into the church to take his or her seat before Mass begins and will see folks of all ages greeting each other as they slide into pews and make room for others. Meanwhile, beautiful prelude music will lend a prayerful atmosphere. As Mass begins, the whole congregation will sing, giving praise to the Lord in a universal acclamation. The priest-celebrant will begin Mass and the responses from the congregation will be intentional and vibrant. The homily will inspire our visitor and give them a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings as the Word of God is applied to the lives of people living and working in this community. They receive a clear call to a more intense personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a discipleship that sends them forth into the world to proclaim the Good News and make the kingdom of God present among His people. At the end of Mass, many people will linger in the still-full pews, taking a moment for an act of thanksgiving before moving to the Parish Hall where refreshments have been offered. More than one parishioner—and not just the official usher—will recognize the visitor, introduce themselves with a smile, and encourage them to visit the coffee-and-donuts gathering, pointing them in the right direction, and once in the hall, at least one of those people will take the opportunity to introduce the new face to other parishioners that they haven’t met yet.

As our visitor lingers over their coffee, they stop by a computer displaying photos of recent parish and school activities: a festival that invited the whole town; a synod for the whole parish to set a vision and priorities for the upcoming pastoral plan review; morning assembly in the school for students and parents; youth group trips to the mountains and a service trip to the inner city; last year’s multi-generational faith formation program. At this last, the visitor picks up a brochure describing the innovative program that equips parents as intentional disciples to catechize and form their own children in the faith from baptism to confirmation and beyond.

The visitor also picks up a schedule of activities in both parishes and the school, that showcase the variety of opportunities to take part in the life of the collaborative on every day of the week.

Finally the visitor downloads the parish app to their phone and signs up for the mailing list, as well as noting the time, date, and location of the weekly neighborhood small-group gathering nearest to their home. As they read the description, they realize it’s at the home of the neighbors who had recently invited them to visit the parish and resolve to drop them an email to thank them for the invitation and to say they hope to see them at the next meeting. Walking out the door of the hall, the visitor waves to one of the parishioners they just met and says, “See you next week. Or maybe on Thursday for that class you mentioned.”*

Pastoral Plan Priorities

  1. Inviting Others to Encounter Jesus Christ
  2. Creating a Joyful, Dynamic Community of Faith
  3. Strengthening Parishioners’ Relationship with Jesus Christ
  4. Cultivating Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood**

GOALS

Inviting Others to Encounter Jesus Christ

  1. Initiate 20 neighborhood social gatherings in homes with the pastor and staff members and at least 10 people who are not active parishioners, every other month over 3 years.
  2. Welcome 30 new Walpole households (people who have just moved to town) per month with a personal visit by parishioners and a welcome basket over the last year of this plan term.

Creating a Joyful, Dynamic Community of Faith

  1. Host 3 Called and Gifted Workshops between the Fall of 2016 and December 31, 2017.
  2. Create a comprehensive hospitality team to accompany parishioners at both parishes “from car to pew” by October 31, 2017.

Strengthening Parishioners’ Relationship with Jesus Christ

  1. Implement Coffee & Conversation gatherings monthly and four Family Faith Workshops/Programs for parents and adult community members through the year by December 31, 2017.
  2. Initiate Alpha for Catholics courses happening twice each year, beginning during the Fall of 2017.

Cultivating Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood

  1. Gather 75 committed people to pray in weekly Eucharistic adoration for vocations to the priesthood within 3 years of the implementation of this plan.
  2. Create a vocation discernment group for young men, 8th grade through high school, with a membership of at least 10 within 18 months of the implementation of the plan.

For more information about Disciples in Mission, visit www.DisciplesinMission.com. For more information about the Matthew 13 Catholic Collaborative in Walpole, visit http://13ma.tt/whatisMatt13

* Bear in mind, once again, that the specific events and offerings listed under Values and Vision will have their details worked out under the S.M.A.R.T. goal process phase of pastoral planning beginning this fall.
** All collaboratives are required by Cardinal Seán to have Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood as one of their priorities

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