WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

An archdiocesan plan for managing change

Archbishop John Dew
6 April 2011

Countless moments of grace and wisdom have blessed my time with you as archbishop. The 2006 ‘Salt and Light Together’ Synod that began our journey gave a most positive impetus to the life of the archdiocese and prefaced many achievements in the name of Jesus. Your own 10 contributions shine bright and I am profoundly grateful that you are with me.

Six years on, challenges to our pastoral effectiveness, seen earlier from a distance, have sharpened in focus and I recognise that meeting them may require fundamental change in the way we function as an archdiocese. This cannot happen without the goodwill and help of each one of you. All of us need to be involved in the process towards decisions, none of which will be easy to arrive at or to implement.

It is clear that, as an archdiocese, we no longer have priests in sufficient number to shepherd our parishes, many of which were created at a time when clergy were plentiful.

The Launch Out programme gives an excellent means of preparing lay people for pastoral leadership and we now have well qualified leaders in parishes without resident priests. The financial cost of this initiative is considerable. I am committed to developing that lay leadership to work in teams with our priests.

The closure and/or amalgamation of parishes and perhaps some schools may well be inevitable. The viability of pastoral areas, as well as funding options, needs to be explored. Of priority concern is the common good of the faith community in the archdiocese.

Focus group formed
I have invited a number of people to work closely with me as a focus group. They will assist in identifying the markers for change and the process by which any perceived change might occur. Alongside their deliberations, I need each parish and school to identify where and when changes might be needed. This will require active collaboration and the best of goodwill.

The latter point is extremely important. Collaboration – working together for the good of all – will involve you with one another across parish and school boundaries perhaps for the first time. This must happen if we are to truly engage the challenges now upon us. I want genuine and open dialogue with you. To this end, all available archdiocesan services will be at your service.

Being Salt and Light Together has brought us to this new moment of grace and wisdom with the maturity to take the next step on the journey. In doing so we acknowledge our identity as a pilgrim people – a people who can never expect to set up permanent camp or shut ourselves off from the world through which we are travelling.

Structures that have served us well over many years and through several generations may have played their part. We need to be open to changes that will enable us to continue our mission of worship, witness, education and service in a very different environment.

In my own reflection and close to my heart more recently, is my desire that the whole archdiocese embrace stewardship initiatives. These offer everyone of us the opportunity to grow the kind of relationships that identify us as members of the one body of Christ. We are then able to welcome any needed change for we are able to see such movement as benefitting us all.

It is the work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, that we are about. The one who stewards us, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life that we might live, calls us into a partnership to continue his serving, saving presence in our world. In his dying and rising, he gives us a model for our pilgrimage: gratefulness for what has been, hopefulness for what has yet to be and celebration for the opportunities presently before us. I believe that within the process of change the seeds of new life exist for the archdiocese. I further believe these seeds lie within the heart of each of you and that your goodwill will nurture their growth in the context of your parish or school life for the good of all.

The people I have invited onto the focus group are:
• Msgr Gerard Burns vicar-general for the archdiocese
• Fr Michael McCabe parish priest, Paraparaumu
• Fr Seph Pijfers parish priest, Karori
• Lorraine McArthur director, Archdiocesan Pastoral Services
• Jenny Gordon archdiocesan vicar for education
• Karen Holland lay pastoral leader, St Anne’s, Newtown
• Mary-Anne Peetz lay pastoral leader, St Thomas More, Wilton
• Paul Bayliss archdiocesan general manager
• Dave Mullin archdiocesan director – Projects and Administration
• Hamish Brown and Marilyn Hunt Phoenix Facilitation Ltd.

This group has already had some significant meetings on the process of change. A clergy workshop will be held to discuss this on May 23–25 and later further engagement with lay pastoral leaders, school principals, parish councils and parish finance committees will be organised.

A clear process of what parishes and schools may expect will be communicated after the Stewardship Institute, August 26–28 this year, along with markers to discern how they might fit into this context of change. In the meantime, I ask for your prayerful support, for your generosity and patience as we work together for the good of the archdiocese.