Next Steps for Pastoral Planning
It feels good to have a solid proposal for rural pastoral planning, but it doesn’t answer every question or even answer the question of, “What should we do next?”.
Are we supposed to announce this to the parish? Is this secret? How much can be shared? Should we wait for the chancery to call? Are we supposed to be in contact with our neighboring parishes?
Here are three next steps you can take move the process forward.
1. Clarify Expectations
Pastors – Oftentimes, you already know what step two is (see step two below), but in case you don’t, please don’t hesitate to call or email Fr. Lorig (email@example.com).
We wish this was a smooth, clean, orderly process, and the road map was all laid out. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the same could be said for much of life’s experiences. When we’re not quite sure what’s expected of us, it can be very frustrating so sometimes we need to take the initiative and ask someone to clarify expectations and next steps. We’re going to do our best to communicate these expectations through phone calls, emails, the clergy email, the Catholic Voice, and this web page. The reality is though that this is just going to be messy…at least for the first wave of planning. When we’re all done, we’ll be able to write the book and sell it for millions of dollars…well, hundreds of dollars…Canadian.
Parish Leadership – While Fr. Lorig is agreeable to take calls to answer any questions and address concerns from parishioners and parish leaders, the preferred process is to run things through your pastor. Several things could happen here. 1) He may have the answers to your questions. 2) He may need to call or email Fr. Lorig because he hadn’t thought of the question you are asking. 3) He may delegate the task of calling Fr. Lorig to you, which is a good and welcome thing.
2. Get Together with the Other Priests
Every pastor has his own style and comfort level when communicating delicate subjects to his parishioners. That being said, what one pastor says and when he says it will have an impact on the neighboring parish. When one pastor shares it in Sunday’s homily and the pastor down the road wants to talk it though with his leadership team first, this can create some unnecessary problems. News travels faster down Highway 275 than a truck full of cattle and sometimes the news smells worse than the cattle. No parishioner likes to hear about the future of his or her parish from a relative or friend while sitting together at a high school basketball game. It stinks. We need to be considerate about how our parish announcements will affect the neighboring pastor and his parish. So let’s communicate with one another.
While much has been shared with parishioners already and some things can’t be undone, we recommend getting together with all the priests affected by the planning in your area, not just in your circle. Talk about worries, hopes, and joys, but also come up with a communication strategy.
Who should initiate this conversation? It doesn’t matter. Usually, we can rely on a dean, but sometimes there is no dean in your circle. Sometimes you can rely on Fr. Lorig, but he might be too focused on another planning group that he forgets to check in at other places. So, if you have a worry and feel there needs to be some communication, make the call to a neighboring pastor. Work out a plan to get together with all the other priests.
Communicating with all of the stakeholders appropriately is the key to success during this initial phase. Let Fr. Lorig know when you plan to meet and he will try to join you. If he’s not able to join you, designate someone to update him on the conversation that took place.