Parishioners are saying "good-bye" to some much beloved priests and "hello" to priests that they are not yet acquainted with.
Change is never easy. Even with the change that each season brings, something in our nature pushes back against the change. Of course, some changes are easier to accept than others. We welcome the idea of change when it is time to move from a winter jacket to a springtime sweater, or change to a job with new challenges. Change means things will be different for us. The familiar is replaced with the unfamiliar, at least for a time. We may be left worried and wondering what the change will ask of us or what shifts in direction we might be asked to take. One thing about change is that it touches everyone's life, sometimes daily and sometimes infrequently.
Each year, on or around the first of June, throughout the archdiocese, changes are taking place. It is that time of year known as "change day" or "moving day" in many parishes. Parishioners are saying "good-bye" to some much beloved priests and "hello" to priests that they are not yet acquainted with. This year, there will be more than 100 priests moving from one assignment to a new assignment. Some of the priests who are moving have reached retirement age and will face the change to lighter priestly duties. Some of those moving will be parochial vicars, who have served for two or three years in one parish and are now moving to another parish as a way to broaden their experience as priests. Still others making a move will take on the responsibility of being a pastor of a collaborative. These priests will actively engage in the Disciples in Mission process while involving parishioners in the work of evangelization. Change is in the air!
On June 1, 30 parishes will comprise the 19 collaboratives of Phase 6. In 13 of those collaboratives, this will be a new assignment for the arriving pastor. Having a new pastor often creates some anticipation and worry in parishioners. They begin wondering what kind of changes will be made to the various aspects of parish life. The priests, on the other hand, might be wondering if the parishioners of this new parish will be welcoming and open to the changes that will be required of being in a collaborative. Change is in the air!
There are bound to be some changes as new perspectives are discussed, but the changes that will occur in these new collaboratives won't happen all at once. They will be gradual, but they will be necessary. In some collaboratives, changes to Mass times may need to be made so that the priests can manage to get from place to place. In others, changes to faith formation may be discussed so that the focus reaches all members of the parish. Engaging more and more parishioners in the living out of their faith and helping people become more active disciples, is perhaps the change that requires the most time and energy, prayer and learning.
Recently, I read this quote by writer and management consultant Margaret Wheatley in her book, "Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future." Reflecting on it reminded me again that facing change as change comes to us, as indeed it will, we need to pray for the gift of openness to what is new in one another. Isn't that the way Jesus lived and loved? Isn't that how we are called to live? I hope that this quote will inspire each of us to face the changes that God is placing before us with peace and reverence. Rely on God!
"Turning to One Another
There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask "What is possible?" not "What is wrong?" Keep asking.
Notice what you care about. Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know. Talk to people you don't know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
Expect to be surprised. Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite everybody who cares to work on what's possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don't fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people close together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together."
Sister Pat Boyle is associate director of the Archdiocese of Bostonís Office of Pastoral Planning.
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