For immediate release: November 2, 2014
MAKING ALL THINGS NEW DECISIONS ANNOUNCED
Today the Archdiocese of New York announced the decisions regarding the pastoral planning initiative, Making All Things New.
“This time of transition in the history of the archdiocese will undoubtedly be difficult for people who live in parishes that will merge. There will be many who are hurt and upset as they experience what will be a change in their spiritual lives, and I will be one of them. There is nobody who has been involved in Making All Things New who doesn’t understand the impact that this will have on the Catholic faithful. It will be our responsibility to work with everyone in these parishes so as to help make the change as smooth as we possibly can.”
With these words, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, today announced the results of a multi-year pastoral planning process, Making All Things New, undertaken to strengthen and enhance parish life in the Archdiocese of New York and to assist the archdiocese in serving its Catholic faithful most effectively. This pastoral planning process, which had its beginnings in 2010, sought the input and suggestions of parishioners, the leadership of religious orders of women and men, and the clergy, resulting in today’s announcement.
The first phase of pastoral planning, directed by Bishop Dennis Sullivan, then the vicar general of the archdiocese, picked up on the good work begun by Cardinal Edward Egan prior to his retirement as archbishop in 2009. This initial work consisted in surveying the parishioners of every parish of the archdiocese; meeting with priests, deacons, and religious throughout the archdiocese; consulting with the archdiocesan pastoral council; and reviewing the observations offered by Cardinal Dolan from his own extensive parish visits since his 2009 appointment as archbishop. These elements were used to determine how pastoral planning should proceed, as well as to identify areas in which the archdiocese should concentrate its resources. Among the issues raised most frequently during these meetings were:
There are a small number of new proposals for parish mergers that have arisen as a result of the cardinal’s own reflection on those proposals presented to him, as well as from his discussions with key advisors. In keeping with the spirit of the Making All Things New process, Cardinal Dolan has asked that these new proposals be shared with the appropriate clusters and the archdiocesan advisory group so as to solicit their input. These will eventually also be reviewed by the priest council of the archdiocese before a final decision is reached. It is hoped that these new proposals will be acted upon soon so that final decisions are reached over the next several months.
Cardinal Dolan praised the efforts of the men and women who worked to develop the recommendations and suggestions that formed the basis of his decisions. “I am grateful to the parish core team members, who gave so much of their time and wisdom in helping us plan for the future, and to the members of the advisory group who took the work of the parish clusters and developed the recommendations that were presented to me at the beginning of the summer. It would have been impossible to reach this point without the thoughtful contributions of our parish core teams, the advisory board, and the priest council, all of whom approached their work patiently, prayerfully, and prudently,” he said.
Bishop John O’Hara, an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, who has directed the Making All Thing New process, acknowledged that, while change and transition often call for sacrifice, it was necessary for the archdiocese to exercise good stewardship in using its resources, including its priests, to carry out its mission. He said, “We have heard from our people the anxiety they feel that they not be ‘abandoned’ after this process has concluded. The parish is where they come in life’s happiest moments, like a wedding, first communion, or baptism, and where they turn when facing difficulties and hard times. So, there is an understandable sense of loss, particularly for those merged parishes where we have announced that Masses and sacraments will no longer be regularly celebrated at one of those churches as a result of the merger. It is now up to us, in the next phase of this process, to work with those parishes that will merge with neighboring parishes. I also want to assure those Catholics in some of the more economically challenged areas of the archdiocese that this is definitely not in any way going to take away from the needed and necessary programs and initiatives in service to the less fortunate.”
Cardinal Dolan emphasized that, while the next pastoral and canonical steps must still be determined for the utilization and possible disposition of certain churches and unused buildings, the work of the Church in serving its people must and will go on. He said, “It is imperative that we continue to find new ways of meeting the spiritual, education, charitable, and human needs of the people of God of this archdiocese. The archdiocese has long been a leader in providing affordable housing, and as part of our on-going discussions with the City of New York, we will now be able to explore several new sites as possible locations for housing. Caring for people with special needs is an ever-increasing ministry, and the archdiocese will look into new and creative ways to accomplish this as well.”
Because of the large amount of data reviewed for each parish, the thoroughness of the input from the local parishes and clusters, and the comprehensive study that led to the recommendations of the advisory group, only previously non-considered information and material that could have a significant impact on a parish will be accepted and evaluated, so as to determine whether a change in the initial recommendation is needed.
Making All Things New does not conclude with today’s announcement. A plan for implementation has been developed which will include pastoral teams to work with any parish that is affected by mergers. Although the timing of transitions will be made on a parish-by- parish basis, it is anticipated that most changes will be implemented prior to August 1, 2015.
In closing, the cardinal expressed his hope for the future. He said, “One thing that has impressed me about Catholics in this archdiocese is their ability to come together in trying times. That was brought home to me most vividly during the period when schools needed to close under Pathways to Excellence. Despite the sadness many felt in losing their school, everyone came together and worked to do what was best for our children, the schools, and the Church. Or, look at how we came together at Hurricane Sandy. I am confident that this same spirit will carry us through the next phase of Making All Things New, as the Archdiocese of New York begins a new chapter of serving Jesus and his followers in faithfulness and in love. Jesus is in charge, and He will never let us down.”
Please click here for Spanish.
Parish List 1 - Masses and Sacraments celebrated at both churches
Parish List 2 - Masses and Sacraments to be celebrated at the designated parish church; the other church may be used on special occasions.