From the Pastor’s Desk…
A year ago, at its June 2017 meeting, the Parish Pastoral Council concluded the Parish Pastoral Plan. One year on, I want to reflect on the progress made on implementing the plan and encourage our continued concentration on the direction it has set.
In 2017, the parish needed a new plan. Providentially, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was actively working on a framework for Archdiocesan-wide parish planning. The energy of our lay leadership at St. Joseph, and the reflections of Archbishop Lori and his collaborators on how to plan, means our plan is a powerful expression of what the local and wider Church is being called to. Given the happy collision of timetables, ours and the Archdiocesan, I was invited to participate with eight other pastors in a pilot project for planning. Three times in the past 12 months, I and the other pastors met for input and facilitated discussions on how best to plan for the mission priorities: Welcome, Encounter, Accompaniment, Sending, Liturgy and Support.
The first major advance in response to the plan was the reorganization of the parish staff. Since February of this year, staffing has been more clearly organized in two key areas: Mission and Mission Support. Bruce Baumgarten heads up a focus on mission in the areas of Faith Formation, Service Justice & Life, and Liturgy. Karen Spivey leads the focus on Mission Support, including finances, facilities and administration. These two directors meet with me once a week so that we give more consistent strategic direction to our everyday efforts and our unfolding projects.
A second development in response to the plan has been the work of the Implementation Team. The six objectives the parish set last year in the Parish Pastoral Plan (see www.saintjoseph.cc ) require measurable action steps to achieve our objectives. A wide consultation of the commissions, committees and interest groups, most importantly the staff, has been undertaken by Bob Bastress and the Implementation Team to creatively imagine actions we can take to move us forward. Some of these reflections have led us to understand that first, we cannot do business as usual in a parish that is seeking to have a missionary thrust. Second, what is being proposed is a change in Church culture that is going to take a very long time and a consistent focus. It is my hope to have summer meetings with the Implementation Committee, a meeting of staff in August, and to have the action steps approved by the Parish Pastoral Council in early September.
I am happy that the parish plan means we have a clear road map for how it must move forward. I invite all those interested in the leadership and the direction of St. Joseph to read and reread the plan and the underlying documents inviting us to become a church of missionary disciples. The work of the last two years has been greatly helped by the retiring Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council, Tim Thimmesch. His consistent work and knowledge of the process has been a great help to me personally and to the process. Along with Tim, I want to acknowledge two other retirees from the PPC: Sue Wilson, the Secretary, and Megan Channing who continues the important work as Chair of the 150th Jubilee Committee.
Rev. Neville O’Donohue, SM