October 6, 2016
By Vicki Cessna
On the heels of the newly implemented Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Bishop Paul J. Bradley has released his fourth pastoral letter for the faithful of the Diocese. Entitled “Moving Forward in Hope: Charting the Course for the Future” the letter details the background for the need for the pastoral plan and also includes the vision for the future.
In the introduction, Bishop Bradley writes, “It is my hope, dear family of faith, that in light of this background and understanding, and with a more equitable distribution of our priests among our 59 parishes and 28 Parish Collaboratives to accompany us along the way, we will continue to move forward in hope along our journey of faith.”
The Diocesan Pastoral Plan called for the creation of 28 Parish Collaboratives which were introduced this past spring. On July 1st nearly 80 percent of all active priests began a new pastoral assignment at one of the 28 Parish Collaboratives. Some priests took on roles such as hospital chaplains and spiritual moderators. The ratio of priests to parishioners in the Diocese mirrors the national trend with 1 priest for every 1,900 parishioners (the national average is 1 to 1,800).
Bishop Bradley notes the plan is “temporary” which may mean 10 years while, God willing, more men answer the call to the priesthood. In addition the plan purposely honors the unique identity of each parish community as all parishes remain open.
New to the diocese under the pastoral plan is the introduction of “terms” for pastors. Each of the pastors assigned to lead a Parish Collaborative received an assignment for a six-year term with the possibility of a renewal of that term for another six years.
In conjunction with the beginning of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan Bishop Bradley also called for each parish to adopt a renewal program.
“The most important thing is to make this time of spiritual renewal a first priority for all our collaboratives for these next few weeks and months so that we will hear more clearly Jesus’ voice and realize more deeply who we are, as individuals, as parishioners, as members of the Diocese of Kalamazoo…,” writes Bishop Bradley.
“Moving Forward in Hope: Charting the Course for the Future” is available in multiple formats. You may download a copy available on the diocesan website (www.diokzoo.org). A limited number of printed copies are being made available at the parishes. For additional copies or questions please contact the diocesan Office of Communications, 269-903-0163.