By Christopher Gunty
A pastoral planning survey conducted by the Archdiocese of Baltimore last year revealed that 80 percent of respondents are growing in their spiritual life, but many are not comfortable sharing their faith with others for fear of offending them.
Archbishop William E. Lori related this information in an update about the archdiocese’s pastoral planning process sent in late August to priests, parish leaders and all the faithful. The update comes a little more than a year after he released his first pastoral letter, “A Light Brightly Visible,” outlining the need for Catholics to go deeper in their relationship with Christ, embrace the mission of the church more fully and live out the mission of spreading the Gospel in their daily lives.
On the answers to the survey about personal faith life and willingness to share the faith, the archbishop said, “While many feel they have a relationship with Christ and are growing spiritually, one out of every five people either did not feel like they were growing spiritually or felt their spiritual life was declining. These are the people who are in our midst, who are worshipping with us on Sunday but are not being inspired by the Gospel. How can we help bring them closer to Christ?”
As part of preparing the archdiocese and parishes to be ready to help create “missionary disciples,” the archbishop established a planning process for parishes and schools, including a detailed study of the current conditions and capacity of 22 schools.
Parishes in the archdiocese are currently organized in clusters, some of which cooperate much more closely than others on Mass times, pastoral ministries and personnel. In the near future, every parish will be part of a “pastorate,” a new term which includes from one to several parishes with a single pastoral leader and leadership team.
A working group of pastors and archdiocesan staff members has drafted a model of the pastorate arrangements, and that draft is open to revision this fall in consultations with pastors and pastoral life directors, lay parish leaders and religious orders.
In October, the recommended pastorates will be made public, with region-level consultation to take place throughout the archdiocese Nov. 9-11, the archbishop said.
Regarding schools, Archbishop Lori said the archdiocese had also last year embarked on a vision for a 21st-century Catholic School system.
At its peak, the update said, the archdiocese had more than 100 parish and independent schools. Now there are 69 such schools. The average age of the 22 school facilities studied since last fall is 61 years. The youngest school is 10 years old, but the oldest is 95.
In spring 2016, the results of the school studies were shared and discussed with pastors, principals and school board representatives of each of the 22 schools.
“I am currently reviewing these same findings and expect to make decisions this fall about the number of schools needed to meet current and projected demand, as well as opportunities for financial investment to improve our school facilities that will allow our schools to remain competitive,” Archbishop Lori said in the update.
To read the full text of the archbishop’s update, click here.