Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 23, 1998
Archbishop MacNeil's Pastoral Letter on Parish Restructuring
Dear Friends in Christ:During the past 10 years, there has been extensive dialogue and study on how the Church of the Edmonton Archdiocese should respond to the changing realities facing our parishes. Among these realities is the continual decline in the number of priests who will be available to serve at the parish level.
Consideration of these issues took on a particular focus during the past three years through the work of the Transformation of Parishes Task Group and in the past year through the work of the Implementation Task Group. All these efforts, cumulatively, have resulted in the preparation of a report entitled, Faithful Into The Future: A Pastoral Plan for The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton. This report has recently been presented to me and I have accepted it in principle.
The pastoral plan presents an organizational framework which should see all 300,000 Catholics in the archdiocese have an equitable opportunity to participate in the sacramental life of the Church and provides for the distribution of pastoral services not just on the weekend, but throughout the week.
It also addresses the workload of the priests. It is obvious that we cannot expect fewer and fewer priests to provide the same level of service that was formerly the responsibility of a significantly larger number of priests. To expect this would be unjust and it would result in our losing priests at an even faster rate. The issue takes on even greater magnitude when we consider that many of our priests are still working full time at an age much beyond when the majority of people retire.
I am aware in all of this that the changes recommended will be painful and a source of sorrow to many. This will be particularly the case for those communities where the Eucharist and the other sacraments will no longer be celebrated in their local church. This is a natural reaction and I empathize with you.
I ask, though, that you try to understand that the archdiocese has little alternative but to proceed with the restructuring of our parishes to make the best use of the human and material resources given to us.
It is clear that in order to organize our parishes for the common good, it will be necessary for you to work with your pastors and parish pastoral councils in a spirit of prayerful cooperation.
As restructuring takes place, you are asked to let the Spirit lead you in working constructively with those parishes with which you might be merged, twinned or clustered. You are invited to be involved and to share your gifts and talents in your new parish grouping.
As we proceed, I ask then that you pray with me to the Holy Spirit because it will be the Spirit that will sustain our Church in its mission. Knowing this, we can confidently accept the challenges before us.
As we enter into the holy season of Advent, I ask that the Lord's blessing be with all of you.
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