Fr. Decker's Reflection on the Diocesan Pastoral Plan

Change is extremely difficult. No matter how many times we think we’re ready, when something long-held gives way to something new and unfamiliar, there is always a process of grieving.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross famously traces the process of change beginning with shock, continuing through denial, frustration, depression, and bargaining before arriving at a point of decision and acceptance or integration. One thing is certain until Our Lord comes again, we will know this cycle many times over the course of our lives.

Last Saturday, our parishes were presented with the Diocesan Pastoral Plan that will be recommended to the bishop for implementation by the first weekend in July. Your fellow parishioners, Fr. Amrit, and I experienced many of the emotions associated with change over the course of this meeting. Preparing for the inevitability of one priest for our cluster, acknowledging the fallout of an extremely secular culture drawing souls away from the Church, and the number of funerals beginning to outweigh baptisms, is jarring and difficult to admit.

Nevertheless, all of the parishes of our diocese will feel the effects of this reality. Our parishes, along with other clustered parishes, will be the first to be reconfigured in the process that has taken place over the course of several years of investigation and planning. Having spoken with other pastors affected, rest assured that our discomfort is not isolated.

On this page, you’ll find the plans that will take place in July. I feel it necessary to make clear that while these will indeed take effect, I, along with the parish pastoral council, will closely monitor their implementation and evaluate their effectiveness over the course of the year.

If this article seems a bit “businessy” in tone, know that because it’s not easy for me to write as I begin to mourn with you. But, in my short decade of priesthood, I have come to understand one sure thing: if we move forward in obedience and charity, there is reason for great hope. It will not be immediate, but The Lord, the True Shepherd of our parishes, will bring forth a rich harvest if we hold fast to The Faith.