Friday, March 16, 2007

Parish Council Pastor Replacement Consultation

Last Sunday's St. Al's bulletin [5 pp. pdf] had this item on the calendar (p. 3).
Mar. 13 ... Parish Council Pastor Replacement Consultation 6:30PM, Community Room

This didn't explictitly invite parishioners; on the other hand, the Community Room venue sounded like they were prepared for a crowd. I decided to drop in to compare the process to what I saw and heard two years ago.

In attendance were the Parish Council, some committee chairs, much of the pastoral staff (see bulletin p. 1), Fr. Brian Mason, of the Priest Placement Board, Catherine O'Neill, Archdiocesan Parish Consultant (filling in for Mark Peters), and one other parishioner.

Ms. O'Neill distributed what appeared to be the standard form "Prayer in the Times of Pastoral Transition". On the back were a set of instructions, "Occasions and Ideas for Prayer". Prayer proceeded per the handout.

Fr. Mason then had everyone around the table introduce themselves, though saying he did not expect to remember our names. He reviewed the priest placement process. An outline of the process was also distributed, along with St. Al's Status Animarum Report (1993-2005), and the Parish Profile dated March 12, 2007.

Forty-five minutes had now passed. Next we were to count off into four groups, each of which would get a handout with six questions about how we saw the parish, what we'd like to see in a new pastor, etc.. This was to take a half hour, which would allow five minutes for each question.

At one of the Archdiocesan listening sessions on parish planning back in the late 1990s, I asked Bishop Sklba why we weren't provided in advance with the materials we were supposed to consider and the questions we were supposed to answer. He seemed taken aback, and said no one else had ever questioned this procedure before. And apparently no one has questioned it since.

Based on the Status Animarum, Parish Profile, and the answers to the six questions, and whatever else they know or have heard, priests up for appointment as pastors rank parishes in which they'd like to serve based. Fr. Mason also had said, though, that two years ago St. Alphonsus was not Fr. Meinholz's first choice, and maybe not among his choices at all. He said some thought him too young or not stable enough for the job. Since he got the job, it leaves the impression no priest listed St. Al's among his choices.

I didn't stay to discuss the questions.

Update: Later I heard that last time St. Al's was the first choice of at least one other priest.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes... This is how the geniuses at the Archdiocese "discern" pastoral placement (and justify their wages). And, if you complain, you'll be told that you were given an opportunity for "input." Face it: the talent pool from which possible pastors may be chosen is terribly shallow (and disgustingly turbid); Fr. Mason, Fr. Frederick, the "Priest Placement Board," (they really spend time away from the work at their parishes for this??) and Ms. McNeill might just as well meet in a small room, gather around a table, light a candle, and consult a magic 8-ball. The results would be the same.

If anyone really believes that this is legitimate "discernment" and that the Holy Spirit's involved, they're sorely mistaken. It seems that the one thing it does prove is that the Holy Spirit has a really terrific sense of humor.

7:39 PM  

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