Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 26, 1998
Parishes urged to work with ToPs
The following letter from Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was read in parishes across the Edmonton Archdiocese on the Jan. 17-18 weeekend.
Dear Friends in Christ:
Holy Scripture tells us that the disciples "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."
This is the church in action and for the people of the Edmonton Archdiocese, the church in action occurs primarily at the level of each parish. Indeed for the parishioners it is the most important community outside their family. For this reason parish life is a priority and the main focus of archdiocesan services.
Like all of society the parish is under great pressure to change. Many of the changes we are experiencing in the church at this time began during Vatican II. However, the church is an institution that has experienced continual change since its foundation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore change need not be feared.
In fact, to be faithful to our tradition the People of God must constantly grow and evolve to fulfil the purpose of the church which is to proclaim and celebrate the good news to the people of our time.
One of the major realities affecting our archdiocese and practically every single parish in North America is that there are significantly fewer ordained priests ministering at the parish level. The foreseeable future indicates that the number of priests will continue to decline. It is therefore necessary for parishes to take time to reflect and to study alternatives to current parish structures.
In order to make the most effective use of priests and resources available and to ensure that the faithful have a full opportunity to participate in the liturgical, catechetical and sacramental life of the church, it is becoming clear that some parishes will have to cluster, twin or merge with other parishes.
The Transformation of Parishes Implementation Task Group has been established and a coordinator, Dr. John Acheson, has been hired to enter into dialogue with the people of each parish. Together they will be able to identify new ways of reorganizing and revitalizing our parishes.
This committee based on the input provided by the parishes will prepare a plan for consideration by the Council of Priests, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and myself. The process will begin with a series of workshops which will take place in various zones of the Archdiocese during the coming months. Pastors and parish pastoral councils have been informed about the workshops.
It is my sincere request that parishioners work closely with the committee. It is important that the plan presented for consideration be one that originates from the people. It is critical therefore that everyone be actively involved.
In this important undertaking, I invite all of you to spend time in prayerful reflection invoking the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can be confident that parishes will continue to be life giving communities of faith and evangelization.
As the process evolves and the plan is implemented, you can count on the support and guidance of your pastors, the prayers and assistance of the Chancery Office and commissions' staff. You will be kept informed of all developments and progress.
May 1998, the Year of the Holy Spirit, be filled with many graces and blessings.
Archbishop of Edmonton
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