A long range pastoral plan, seven years in the making, is about to be implemented by the Regina Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
The process began in 2001 originating with the Council of Priests concerned about what appeared to be the lack a long range plan for the future of the Archdiocese. A Vision Quest committee was subsequently formed under the chairmanship of Reverend John Weckend; deanery, parish, archdiocesan pastoral councils and the council of priests were consulted and input was sought through laity gatherings.
“The result of all that consultation where the people of the Archdiocese were invited to submit their opinions as to what needed to be done in the Archdiocese was to give us this pastoral plan and to help us become a stronger and more vital church,” said Archbishop Daniel Bohan.
The key to the plan is the decentralization of services now delivered by the central office to the seven deaneries. Archbishop Bohan said from all of the consultations there was a very strong “push” from all these levels for decentralization of services in the diocese. The size of the archdiocese (it is one of the larger archdioceses in Canada) makes it ineffective to have people come to Regina, he said. “This way we hope the deanery will make sure that every parishioner in the deanery will have the opportunity to be involved,” said Archbishop Bohan. “This is not something that’s going to happen in two months time and be finished. This is a plan for the future and as we enter into it we will hopefully learn more and more effective ways of making it happen.”
Deaneries will meet and select a location within their boundaries which will be the focal point for living out the life of the church. “The difference will be that rather than a training session in Regina, or in one of the larger parishes, the deanery will say we need to train all our people and we need to find a way to get that going.”
The Archbishop said the priests also want more use made of modern communication technology. “To look at ways we can use teleconferencing, telecommunication within the parishes and that would come under education.”
The Archdiocese maintains an active website which is continually updated and includes the Archbishop’s personal blog which is updated every weekend.
The plan has four priorities; Evangelization, Education, Enabling the Laity and Liturgy.
Evangelization requires the faithful to be a welcoming community, to reach out to people and to have programs of social justice and a belief in vocations.
Education in this context means adult education, catechesis, youth ministry programs, the role of Catholic schools and to become educated in the use of modern technology.
Enabling the laity means training the laity for ministry and collaborative team work between laity and clergy and more fully living out the Baptismal Priesthood and Liturgy means to promote the active participation in liturgy, helping the pastors and the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
He said the role of the diocesan pastoral staff will be to provide deaneries with everything they need to do what they want to do within the four areas.
The plan also includes a process for closing and realignment of churches and sets criteria for determining the vitality and viability of a parish; involvement of community, good liturgical celebrations, service to the people, faith enrichment opportunities and financially stable with properly maintained buildings and facilities.
Archbishop Bohan said it is the bishop that ultimately makes the decision to close or realign a parish but it is the parishioners who make that recommendation/request to the bishop.
Reverend John Weckend has been appointed as the Coordinator for the implementation of the new vision.