The Report based on the responses to the consultation period ended on 16th October was delayed due to the sheer volume of responses This weekend (15th January 2017) a Pastoral Letter from Bishop John was read at all the Masses and a copy of the report was made available for most homes after Masses.
In his Letter Bishop John speaks to us here at St. Vincent’s and says:-
“In the case of this parish of Saint Vincent de Paul, Norden, it is proposed that it remains as at present. Depending on the outcome of some further discussion that I have requested, it may be that this parish will be asked to incorporate some territory from the parish of Saint Gabriel and the Angels and Saint John the Baptist, Rochdale.
The implementation of these proposals will happen in stages, appropriate to each situation over the coming months and years.”
There will also be a special page on the diocesan website relating to these proposals. This will contain a full copy of the report, together with a recording of the pastoral letter and a short video presentation by the bishop.
If you have not already received a copy. the full report is available HERE. Please be aware that there are 24 pages in the report and it needs to be read a few times to grasp the full implications.
In Summary overall, there are no proposed structural changes for our own parish apart from the possible changes mentioned above. However there are very significant proposals for those parishes in our immediate vicinity. It is proposed that our Deanery of St Therese of Lisieux covering Bury and Rochdale should go from 20 parishes, 24 churches and 17 diocesan priests to 13 parishes, 22 churches and 12 diocesan priests. These are very significant changes, which will affect all of us in some way. An obvious effect is that the workload of our priests will rise enormously, which will mean they will need to rely more and more for support from parishioners on the secular side of running of the parish and allowing them to concentrate on their priestly service to the parish. On that subject the report stresses that
Now we have fewer priests but enough to provide for the sacramental and pastoral life of the members of the parish, that only a priest can provide. All other aspects of parish life must rely on the collaboration and contribution of the members of the parish community.
It goes on to identify a parish as having three distinct but mutually dependant dimensions and expands on them to spell out the numerous ways in which we are all called to help
1. The Parish as a place of prayer and Sacrament
2. The administration of a Parish
3. The outward Mission of a Parish
It spells out the numerous opportunities we are presented with due to the needs of our fellow Catholics, of our fellow Christians, of those who have fallen away from the Faith, of the non-believers, of the Poor, the Lonely, the Sick; the list seems never ending and Bishop John and Pope Francis are putting it up to us to come up with a positive response to the question, which is being put to us.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
Some background : It has been recognised for a number of years that a significant restructuring of the management of the diocese and deaneries was needed with a reducing number of clergy. With this in mind Bishop John issued a document to introduce the process and invited every parish to hold a meeting for parishioners to look at where they are presently, and how they might grow in the future, so as to truly become those missionary parishes Pope Francis often talks about.
Our Parish Meeting took place in the Parish Centre on Tuesday 3rd May this year and was well attended. There was a short summary in the subsequent Newsletter of the items raised and a detailed summary is now available HERE.
Bishop John has been meeting throughout May 2016 with all the clergy, each deanery as a group, so as to prepare the way and make some necessary changes so that the diocese may continue to be served by the clergy and laity, in the years to come.
The meeting with the clergy from our deanery took place on Thursday 12th May and a proposal for the way forward was submitted to Bishop John by the priests of the deanery. He met with all the priests of the Diocese and the resulting proposals for the future structures of our parishes for our thoughts and comments in the 3 month period of consultation, which ended on 14th October.
Bishop John also issued a Pastoral Letter (issued at all Masses on 11th and 12th June) to prepare the way for the proposals and this can be read or downloaded HERE.
The message is that prayer will be the key to giving us “a clearer insight into what we need to do and provide us with the strength to do it.”
After a period of Consultation ending last October, to which there were thousands of responses, the Final Report was issued on 15th January above.