MADISON -- "We are not working toward surviving parishes, but for thriving parishes," said Sr. Mary Montgomery, co-facilitator of a recent Parish Staff Day at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center.
Clergy, religious, and lay staff members of parishes from throughout the Diocese of Madison gathered for the day that focused on "Collaboration Across Parish Lines."
The day began with morning prayer led by Bishop William H. Bullock.
"Change is constant in our day. A call to conversion implies good changes occur all the time," he said, noting that we must pray in earnestness for peace. "We live in a time of change both radical and rapid and it affects us day after day."
Montgomery, a Sinsinawa Dominican and director of pastoral planning for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, served many years in the Diocese of Madison's Office of Catholic Schools. The other co-facilitator of the day was Kate Wiskus, director of the Diocese of Madison's Office of Pastoral Services.
Together they addressed the challenges and vision of parish collaboration.
Wiskus explained that parish collaboration stems from the Strategic Plan for the Diocese of Madison, a guide for planning. Much has already been accomplished in the Strategic Plan and in many areas parishes are already beginning to share resources, she said.
Dealing with change
"We realize the essential role of parish collaboration is really necessary," said Wiskus. "That's what today is about: things change. We've seen an increase in the number of Catholics in the diocese but also a decrease in the number of priests." Full Story ...
Priests' morale: Declining numbers are having an impact
MADISON -- The declining number of priests in the Diocese of Madison is having an impact on both parishes and priests.
Priests of the diocese discussed the effects on priests' morale at the Presbyteral Council meeting held Feb. 19-20 at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center.
Fr. Gary Krahenbuhl, Beloit, presented a variety of issues raised from input given by priests throughout the diocese to the council's Priestly Life Committee. Following are the issues brought to the council for discernment:
1. "The overall morale of priests. Circumstances within ministry and the larger Church community has led to a deficit of morale. Energies are low. The implications of the sex-abuse crisis are far reaching and affecting parishes. There are less priests for more work. Without a Vicar for Priests, where can priests turn for support and direction?
2. "Should we be exploring new ways of pastoring? Is the paradigm within which we minister now working or weighing us down? Are there more creative ways to approach our ministry as pastors?
3. "Increased difficulty in securing help-out for weekends. Could a list be developed to offer names, restrictions, availability of priests in the diocesan areas who are willing to help cover in parishes? Is there a way that the diocese could have a 'central clearinghouse' for scheduling priests? Full Story ...