One of the things we try to do here at Blessed Sacrament is to keep everyone as informed as possible, not just about things happening in the parish, but also things happening at the diocesan level.
One of the major things that I want everyone to be aware of is a large initiative by the diocese called the Road to Renewal. This initiative was begun even before Bishop Fisher arrived, while Bishop Scharfenberger was still here, to address questions about the future for Catholic parishes. One of the goals of this initiative is to allow individual parishes to share resources together with neighboring parishes, in a way that provides effective ministry to the whole community. Some factors which are driving the diocese to look at how best to minister to a parish community in the future include the increasing average age of the active diocesan priests, the declining numbers in church attendance and sacraments, and finally, the lower contributions that parishes receive from their members (this happens all across the diocese).
The question then is, how does this Road to Renewal have any impact on us here at Blessed Sacrament? Well in short, the diocese is moving forward with a plan to create “families” of
parishes. A “family” would be a grouping of local parishes, most likely in a geographic area, which would share together in the common task of parish ministry. Each individual parish would remain independent, complete with their own trustees, finance councils, and parish structures, so this is not about merging parishes into giant, mega parishes. For example, you have parish A, B, and C that are grouped into a particular “family.” Parish B has the best sacramental preparation program, so the students from parishes A and C would go to parish B for sacraments prep, but then return to parish B to receive those sacraments. Let’s say parish C has a really vibrant social outreach committee, so parishes A and B could join in their efforts to raise money for various charitable causes. These are just a couple of different examples.
At this point, which parishes will be grouped into which “families” is still being discussed, however, I do want to make sure that you, our parishioners and friends, are aware that this is something the diocese is moving towards. Next week, I will mention a few other things about the Road to Renewal, particularly about the assignment of individual priests to individual parishes. For additional information on the Road to Renewal, consult the information page on the diocesan website: http://www.buffalodiocese.org, and as I said previously, we will provide as much information to all of you as soon as possible. In many cases, we, the individual pastors, are waiting to hear some of the concrete details from downtown. In short, when we know something for sure, we will convey it to everyone as effectively as possible.
~Fr. Martin Gallagher