What is a Pastoral Plan and why do we need one?
“A pastoral plan serves as a roadmap for our journey as a Catholic Christian community, identifying key priorities and goals on the path ahead. It is rooted in prayerful reflection upon the Bible and our living tradition of faith. It also involves a thorough, accurate and honest assessment of our current pastoral situation, both the challenges and the opportunities before us…It is always wise to step back and consider what our key priorities as an archdiocese should be at this time, so that we can more effectively work together, and focus our efforts, and have a way of assessing how we are doing. That is what a pastoral plan allows us to do; it also helps us both to discover the tools we need to fulfill our mission, and to use our resources more wisely.” – Cardinal Collins.
Who came up with our Pastoral Plan?
The Pastoral Plan of the Archdiocese of Toronto is the result of many years of consultation, dialogue, prayer and discernment. When he first arrived in the archdiocese in 2007, then Archbishop Thomas Collins asked every priest of the archdiocese to share their top priorities through confidential correspondence. This dialogue led to numerous committees sharing ideas and insights, with feedback coming from clergy, religious and lay representatives from across the archdiocese. From church basements to casual conversations at events, formal meetings to informal brainstorming, consultation was extensive. A steering committee made final recommendations to Cardinal Collins, who promulgated the pastoral plan the weekend of February 2/3, 2013. We will continue to use this resource as a spiritual roadmap for years to come.
How long will this pastoral plan guide the Archdiocese of Toronto?
The hope is that this plan will serve as a spiritual roadmap for a number of years. As time progresses, we will regularly review the plan to see if there are amendments that need to be made in response to where the Archdiocese is at in a particular moment in time. Hard copies of the plan, as well as digital copies and corresponding online resources will be continually available in the coming years. The benefit of this website is that we can continuously update the resources that are available to guide the implementation of the plan on a long-term basis.
What is a “pastoral mission” in comparison to an “apostolic mission”?
The best way to distinguish between these two directions of the plan is to think inward vs. outward. Our pastoral mission asks us to look inward to see how we can grow individually and as parishes. Our apostolic mission concerns the work we do outwardly, including outreach efforts, evangelization and restoration of the St. Michael’s Cathedral. Together, the pastoral and apostolic aspects of our ministry create a fulsome mission in accordance with God’s call for our lives.
What can I do as an individual?
The goals of the Pastoral Plan pertain deeply to how we live our daily lives. It goes beyond broad goals for parishes and administration and asks the important question: “how am I personally being called to deepen my relationship with Christ and engage with His Church?” We hope you will take the time to review the plan regularly and ask yourself how you are doing at achieving its goals. We have also designed a series of questions for reflection. They can be used in group settings such as parish meetings, prayer groups and Bible studies. We also encourage you to reflect on these questions in your personal prayer. Silent reflection, group discussion and journaling are all great ways that you can reflect on the Pastoral Plan in your life.
How will this plan affect my parish?
We are blessed to have an extremely diverse archdiocese. Each parish has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Some parishes may be particularly strong in one area outlined in the Pastoral Plan, but may identify other areas that could use some work. As such, no two parishes will be affected by the Pastoral Plan in the same way. Overall, we hope parishes will see signs of new or revitalized ministries, the development of discussion groups around the Pastoral Plan and new vocations from within the parish community. By investing in the plan as an individual, you can help your parish to achieve the goals on a broader level.
What is expected of parishes in response to this plan?
One thing we recommend is that parishes organize groups to assess the current reality of parish life in relation to the goals of the plan. Is there more that can be done in any of the areas? If so, identify how your community can go about meeting the goals. Are there new ministries that your parish can create to meet a particular need? What are our resources and how are we best using them to meet the goals set out in the plan? Take a look at the questions for discussion for more ideas to help your community reflect on the plan.
How can I provide feedback on the Pastoral Plan?
The Pastoral Plan is designed to engage the faithful, non-Catholics and those who have wandered away from the Church. Certainly we are interested in hearing about how it is impacting parishes, families and individuals. If you have other constructive feedback, feel free to share it! Send us a Tweet (@archtoronto), connect with us on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.