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Archdiocese advances collaborative Pastoral Planning process

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For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Maria Zone
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Archdiocese of Hartford Advances Collaborative Pastoral Planning Process: “Stewards for Tomorrow”

HARTFORD, Conn. (February 15, 2016) – Close to 200 priests, together with various parish and Archdiocesan leaders, met on Friday afternoon at the Lyceum in Terryville to continue collaboration and strategic planning integral to positioning the Archdiocese of Hartford – its parishes, schools and institutions – to ensure a spiritually rich, vibrant and sustainable future.

In attendance with the priests were Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and representatives from the Archdiocesan leadership, including members of the Pastoral Planning Committee and the Pastoral Council. These stakeholders have been meeting with Archbishop Blair and leaders from the Office of Pastoral Planning on an ongoing basis to identify and assess demographic shifts and sacramental and social trends; offering their suggestions and expertise on ways to strengthen the Archdiocese now and for future generations.

“This highly-consultative group is looking closely at the ecclesial facilities and ministries within the Archdiocese of Hartford that will best serve the people of God and help the Catholic Church fulfill its spiritual mission now and in the future,” said Reverend James A. Shanley, vicar for Pastoral Planning. “Together, we are responding to Pope Francis’ challenge by cultivating a ‘missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation,’” explained Father Shanley.

An unbiased, third-party consulting firm that specializes in providing customized services for the Church nationwide helped to facilitate Friday’s meeting and is working with the Office of Pastoral Planning, the presbyterate and a cross-section of stakeholders to envision and develop a long-range Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan. They are analyzing key indicators including Connecticut’s demographic and outward migration trends, area birth rates, Church attendance, number of priests and their workloads, sacramental activity, Catholic school enrollment counts and fiscal conditions. Consideration is also being given to the subjective, qualitative information unique to each deanery such as meeting the spiritual, ethnic and cultural needs of the state’s increasingly diverse Catholic populations.

These inputs will be integrated with Your Voice Counts survey feedback from more than 17,000 members of the Archdiocese, and from still others who last spring completed written and online questionnaires and attended 16 Focus Groups. In the coming weeks, deans throughout the Archdiocese will continue discussions with local clergy, men and women Religious, and laity to formulate pastoral design recommendations specific to their respective deaneries and local needs.

Stewards for Tomorrow

“Pastoral Planning is a long-term, evolving process that necessitates collegiality and creativity as much as it does prayer and guidance from The Holy Spirit,” said Deacon Ernie Scrivani, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Pastoral Planning. “The ultimate goal of pastoral planning is to instill and actualize an authentic spirit of discipleship in every member of the Archdiocese, for the sake of our common mission, which is to bear witness to Christ and the Gospel,” said Deacon Scrivani. “As a family of faith, we are called to be stewards for tomorrow.”

“Change is in the air,” said Myles Hubbard, a Pastoral Council member from Hartford. “If we don’t take demographic shifts and other current trends seriously, we simply won’t be keeping up with the times,” said Hubbard. “We need to be motivated by our faith as we fulfill a stewardship role for future generations by envisioning a local Church that is both spiritually vibrant as well as sustainable.”

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