Parish Partnership Preparation Group
Interim Report - June 2013
In planning for the future of St. Isidore and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parishes, the care of our community is a high priority. The Archdiocese of Boston has assured us that we will continue as two separate parishes. We acknowledge that there are two distinct communities with different constituencies and different histories, deserving of respect and reverence for the vital centers of faith each has been and will continue to be. Our challenge is to thrive as a Catholic Christian presence in the towns of Acton, Boxborough, and Stow.
We have identified the following areas of concern as we prepare for the time when only one priest is assigned to both parishes:
I. The schedule and location of liturgical celebrations
Since one priest cannot sustain the present schedule in both parishes, the time and location for virtually all liturgical celebrations will need to be reconsidered. These include:
- Weekend Masses
- Weekday Masses
- Holy days of obligation
- Palm Sunday
- The Triduum
- Funeral liturgies
- Special sacramental events (First Communions, Confirmations, Marriages and Baptisms)
II. Pastoral Care
The work of shepherding a parish and accompanying people in their journey of faith will continue to be a priority. However, how this pastoral care is provided will change. The challenges are to work out priorities for the priest’s attention and decide how responsibility for pastoral care will be shared with others. The type and depth of pastoral needs ebb and flow with the life of the community. Some examples:
- Visiting and anointing the sick and dying
- Being present with those who are grieving
- Guiding families through the funeral process
- Counseling couples preparing for marriage and those struggling in their marriage
- Helping people deal with personal crises, such as job loss, addictions and family issues
- Providing spiritual guidance
- Providing leadership when events happen that impact the community at large
- Celebrating joyful milestones of individuals and the community
III. Other Issues for Consideration
With respect to faith formation, both parishes are committed to the Generations of Faith approach to whole community catechesis, and both have strong programs of preparation for baptism, confirmation and first communion. However, when one priest is responsible for two parishes, his ability to provide presence and guidance will be limited. The challenge is to find a suitable way to adjust or compensate for these limitations.
Travel related issues may also arise. The five miles between the two parish churches may require some people to adjust their schedules and outlook.
With only one priest, his scheduled and unscheduled absences will have a greater and potentially more disruptive impact. Expectations will have to be adjusted and responses crafted as we accommodate this new reality.
We look forward to your thoughts, concerns and feedback. Throughout this process, we will remember who we are—children of a God of abundance, people of hope, communities of the Risen Christ, who believe that life comes out of death, those who “know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
The Parish Partnership Planning Group
Charlie Corley Patricia Noone
Melinda Donovan Joyce Pinney
Diahne Goodwin Ed Reverdy
Tom Moroney Cathy Rudolph
Owen Neville Steve Ryan
June 5, 2013