In each of the five core directions we pursue, we will emphasize four key priorities that will guide us in our common mission as a family of faith:
1. Engage Families, Especially Our Young People
The Christian family is the vessel through which we have the opportunity to evangelize the world. We recognize the great challenges faced by families in an increasingly secular society, where it is often a struggle to make faith a central focus and priority of family life.
The Core Directions require that Catholic families throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto truly engage with our mission. At the same time, we need to embrace opportunities to support families, offering tangible programs to strengthen the family unit. We will emphasize activities that support Marriage Preparation, Marriage Enrichment and outreach to single, widowed, separated and divorced Catholics. Mothers and fathers are the primary educators and authentic Christian witnesses that children look to for guidance and direction as they navigate the difficult path ahead. Their leadership is essential to help catechize our young people. The active engagement of parents is also vital for the well-being of our publicly funded Catholic education system. It is parents who have the primary responsibility for education.
We will also look for opportunities to support the elderly and infirm. In reaching out to our seniors through various initiatives, we will also draw on their experience and invite them to take leadership roles and share their gifts and wisdom with us. The faithful who are called to the single life make an immense contribution to the life of the Catholic community and the wider society in which we live. We will ensure that their spiritual needs are not overlooked, and invite them to fully engage in the life of the parish and in the mission of evangelization.
As a central priority we will invite youth of all ages - from our children to young adults - to participate fully in our faith. Our archdiocese needs the contributions of our youth if we are to flourish as a Christian community capable of fulfilling its mission. We must offer to youth spiritual nourishment and full engagement as valued and active parishioners. To build effective parishes, strengthen our leadership for the long-term, revitalize the “Cathedral Block”, enhance service to the people of God, and witness in the culture of ideas, we need the full and active participation of our youth.
First and foremost, our parishes will make it a priority to reach out to our young people and to their families. Our churches will involve youth in roles of ministry and service, ensuring they stay connected to their faith as they mature and approach adulthood. We strongly encourage all of our parishes to form Youth Councils and to seriously consider hiring a youth minister – on their own or in partnership with neighbouring parishes. Parishes can work with the Office for Catholic Youth to continually enhance their outreach to young people.
Our parishes can also reach our young people through our Catholic schools. The parish staff, pastor, clergy and lay ministers will be active and present in the parish schools, assisting the teachers in the religious education of the students, especially those preparing for the sacraments. Celebrating Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently at the schools can help evangelize our youth. We must also reach the students in the secular schools, recognizing that they have an even greater need for catechesis and ongoing faith formation.
Our youth will play a key role in revitalizing the “Cathedral Block”. Not only must we draw on the talents of young people to design services and activities for the new evangelization and outreach, we also expect young people will be an important focus for programs and services in the “Cathedral Block”.
At institutes for higher learning, we will seek to provide students with the spiritual support they need in their studies and spiritual life. We will strengthen this support at all the university campuses in the archdiocese through chaplaincies and our Office of Catholic Youth.
Young adults who have completed their formal education need support as they embark upon new careers and start their own families. Parishes must take a leading role in their support. On an archdiocesan level, we will strengthen our efforts to engage and support our young adults through the Office of Catholic Youth.
2. Celebrate our Cultural Diversity
The Archdiocese of Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse dioceses in the world, with Mass celebrated in more than 30 languages each week. This richness of diversity is one of our greatest gifts to be nurtured lovingly and responsibly.
For those who have come to call the Archdiocese of Toronto home, parishes with a treasured cultural history serve not only as a spiritual home but a gathering of family members who share a common culture, language and tradition. It is not uncommon for parishioners to spend many hours at the parish each week, engaging in spiritual, social, educational and outreach opportunities that foster a sense of belonging and a deep connection to traditions that span generations.
In considering the core directions of the pastoral plan, we must draw on the richness of this diversity while, at the same time, challenging one another to consider how we can stay connected with the body of Christ beyond our parish boundaries. We will work to maintain a deep connection to the local church, while encouraging our culturally diverse parishes to share their successful models of collaboration, worship and outreach with neighbours and friends across the Archdiocese of Toronto.
3. Use Resources Wisely
We are conscious of the importance of subsidiarity, that is, the responsibility for action should be set as close to the local situation of the individual as possible. The individual, the family, and the parish have the greatest share of responsibilities for achieving the archdiocesan pastoral plan. The principle of subsidiarity also recognizes that some responsibilities are better carried out regionally or centrally – to achieve economies of scale or to draw on specialized expertise.
We seek to effectively balance the benefits of decentralization and centralization. Archdiocesan services must be cost-effective, provided as effectively as in the secular world, or more effectively. In achieving the desired outcomes of our pastoral plan, we must continuously ask if services are being provided at the right level in the archdiocese.
Some of our fundamental directions will be best achieved through parish-level efforts. Others, like revitalizing the Cathedral and the “Cathedral Block”, will draw on specialized expertise provided centrally. But most of our core directions will require a collaboration of efforts and resources between the parish and the central, archdiocesan level.
4. Communicate Effectively
We need to strengthen our ability to communicate within our family of faith and with all members of society, recognizing that communication is a two-way process.
At the parish level, we will ensure ongoing excellence in the way our offices listen to and respond to calls. Our parish bulletins, web sites and social media are at the front line of communicating with parishioners and others. While these are parish responsibilities, the archdiocese will strengthen its support to the parishes in their communications efforts.
At the archdiocesan level, we will aim to be among the best in North America in providing excellent communication through our website – giving access to practical information like the location and Mass times of our parishes and serving as an easy-to-use portal to the richness of Catholic writings on the full range of issues.
Our staff will become adept at using social media to hear from active Catholics and those outside the church, and to respond to their queries and concerns. Social media will serve as an important tool for transmitting our message to the community.
As the city of Toronto is a media centre for both Canadian and international secular media, we will serve as a hub for their inquiries on issues relating to the Catholic Church, providing competent Catholic voices to respond to a wide range of stories. We will also work to actively share the good works of the church with our partners in the media. We expect the revitalized “Cathedral Block” to have a media component, which will require that we develop our communication resources and strengthen our communications capabilities in an ongoing way.