Council Notes from New Orleans (December 2017)

(Photo: Archdiocese of New Orleans)

Below follows a summary version of the minutes of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’s Presbyteral Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 5, 2017:

  • The Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools spoke to the Council about parishes supporting parishioners who attend “Pre-K 4” at a school outside their parish. Agreement was reached that consistency was needed regarding admissions criteria for vouchers and support. The Council voted 16-2 in favor of providing parish voucher support at the “Pre-K 4” levels. Archbishop Aymond agreed to consider consultation.
  • The Council voted unanimously to approve revised recommendations on marketing by Catholic schools.
  • The Council voted unanimously to approve a revised policy concerning parish pastoral councils, with changes in the wording on the terms of members and an addition to the duties section requiring support for diocesan initiatives.
  • A proposal from the diaconate community concerning engagement with the disengaged (particularly those undergoing a divorce) was raised. The proposal called for deacons and other pastoral ministers to make visits to parishes on Sundays, traveling two by two, and making themselves available to meet with anyone, talk, and offer resources. The Council discussed the difficulties and benefits of such a ministry, and unanimously approved the proposal in a pilot program format.
  • A priest raised the issue of considering a policy whereby priests would be regularly evaluated for their driving ability, citing concerns over safety and financial costs related to insurance. The Council approved by consensus the moving forward of developing criteria for driving evaluation.

Next Council meeting on February 1, 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

Council Notes from New Orleans (October 2017)

Archbishop Aymond thanked the members of the planning committee of the September priests convention for their fine work. Minutes note the convention was positively received by many.

– The result of the election of officers is as follows:

Father Nghiem Nguyen – Chairman

Father Jimmy Jeanfreau – Vice-Chairman

Father Daniel Green – Secretary

– The Confirmation Preparation Policy is undergoing final consultation before it returns to the committee that will take input from the consultations and draft a new policy. It will be reviewed by priests, deacons, directors of religious education, school personnel, and youth ministry directors for final approval.

– Members approved the recommendation that the Office of Family Life Apostolate be changed to Office of Marriage and Family Life.

– The Pastoral Practices Committee report included a suggestion by Archbishop that an electronic manual be published so parishes that want to celebrate certain observances would be readily able to do so.

– The Continuing Formation Committee reviewed the positive feedback from the priests’ convention. Materials will be kept on file for the next convention in four years.

Finally, during Archbishop’s remarks, a member asked if the US bishops’ conference was planning any initiatives concerning the issue of gun violence.

Council Notes from Owensboro (October 2017)

On October 7, Bishop Medley celebrated the Rite of Admission to Candidacy with seven Hispanic men on track to be ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2020.

On October 14, he celebrated the Rite of Admission to Candidacy with twelve Anglo deacon candidates on track to be ordained in 2020.

– Bishop had lunch with members of the FOCUS ministry serving Western Kentucky University. As they settle in, he hopes they involver themselves in diocesan activities.

– A Jubilee Celebration for religious took place on Oct. 21.

–  He attended the National catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.

–  The Director of the Office of Evangelization gave an extensive presentation on the diocesan four-year plan for new evangelization (Outline attached to minutes). The overarching theme is “Living as Missionary Disciples.” Members affirmed the plan and encouraged participation.

–  Bishop reported there are eight seminarians in various phases of formation. He emphasized that every priest is a vocation director and shares in the responsibility to promote vocations.

-Some observations from NFPC president Fr. Tony Cutcher’s September presentation on Priests and Bishops in Council to members of the Owensboro Council:

– limit discussion times; be flexible when a topic deserves additional time

– affirm sense of brotherhood among council members

– list expected outcome of agenda items, i.e. “informative,” “instructive,” “approved by priests’ council.”

– find a way to make council membership representative of presbyterate. Ensure International Priests’ representation.

– membership read together “Death by Meeting,” by Pat Lencione

– members to have pertinent information reviewed prior to meeting

– new council members to receive a brief orientation

– examine frequency of meetings.

– A concern was raised about the practices of some permanent deacon candidates. Bishop addressed particular incidents.

– Finally, the last touches are being made on the diocesan Policy Manual. It will be available online soon.

Council Notes from Jefferson City (August 2017)

The Vocation Office report announced the diocese accepted five new students for seminary formation. They entered Conception Seminary College on Aug. 15.

– A discussion took place about various programs offered through the Ministry to Priests Committee. The next Priests’ Institute will focus on the Intentional Presbyterate. Members discussed past programs, costs, speakers, goals, and follow up.

– After a discussion, a motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed to recommend the approval of the Revised Sabbatical Policy

– Deanery feedback was discussed relative to the Christ the King Multicultural celebration.  The “commonality” of being Catholic was emphasized. Due to preparations such as securing a well-known speaker and other planning and marketing activities, 2019 was suggested as the year to begin the celebration.

– An extensive discussion took place concerning the consolidation of the diocesan payroll system with the Chief Financial Officer present. The goal is to standardize the system, and to reduce errors and penalties.

– Minutes noted a favorable response to the Revised Marriage Rite. A request was made that the Diocesan Liturgical Commission develop a template with the appropriate text to use for a wedding with Mass and for a wedding without a Mass.

– In discussing feedback about discontinuation of the print version of the diocesan directory, members from all deaneries requested a return to a print/hard copy. Conversation took place around ways to pay for the printing including soliciting advertisers and perhaps removing non-essential information.   A motion was made, seconded and unanimously passed to return to the print version of diocesan directory.

– Minutes note deanery consultations for the Diocesan Pastoral Plan are completed.

– Several people who attended the Convocation for Catholic Leaders in Orlando in July will produce a report on their experience.

– Finally, Bishop Gaydos expressed gratitude to all for their prayers and support during and after his spring aortic valve surgery.

Council Notes from Owensboro (September 2017)

– Bishop Medley reported 16 men were ordained to the permanent diaconate. He thanked members for their role in recruiting and forming them.

–  Rainbow Mass celebrated on Sept. 28. Young people from Catholic schools  participated.

– Disciples Response Appeal underway.

– Members heard an update on Scripture Sunday- a tie-in with the New Evangelization and praying with Scripture, especially using lectio divina.

Other plans include a year of prayer for the Diocese, beginning with a Eucharistic Holy Hour at all parishes,

A day of reflection led by the bishop for priests, deacons, parish staffs, McRaith Catholic Center Staff, and Catholic school principals.

– A discussion took place on the re-wording of the Parish Assessment Policy concerning charitable contributions. Bishop will review the issue and make a final determination.

– Members reviewed drawings for the Bishop Cotton apartments planned refurbishing.

– Minutes contained notes from NFPC president Father Tony Cutcher’s Bishop and Priests in Council Workshop conducted on Sept. 18.

Council Notes from Green Bay (August 2017)

The Green Bay Council began its August meeting with a motion to nominate Father Joe Sember as Chairman and Father Dinh Van-Thiep as Vice-Chairman. The motion was unanimously approved.

  • Bishop Ricken discussed a draft of a letter recommending each parish celebrate a Votive Mass for the Blessed Virgin Mary on Oct. 9, beginning in 2018.
  • A draft of Diocesan Policy Concerning the Rite for Distributing Holy Communion outside of Mass with the Celebration of the Word was discussed.
  • A discussion took place on the connection of the mission, vision, culture and culture values. Minutes note that the mission is driving everything. Missionary discipleship is hoped-for outcome.
  • An organizational consulting firm is rendering assistance.
  • An emphasis is to move form maintenance to mission. To move from a corporate to missionary discipleship model.
  • Another emphasis is to move from departments to teams.
  • Key words and actions to build missionary disciples are communicate, encourage, support, trust, accompany, and empower at all levels.
  • An extensive discussion of the Catholic Schools Study. A consulting group assisted with the process. There are four overarching features:
    • Schools of Discipleship
    • Governance and Leadership,
    • Academic excellence
    • Operational vitality.
  • All tie in with focus of diocesan mission and vision: missionary discipleship.
  • Near the end of the meeting members and diocesan leaders discussed ways to gather resources to fund the project.  A capital campaign was discussed.
  • The Catholic Foundation will be a partner in the project.
  • A motion was made and unanimously passed to proceed with a feasibility of the diocesan capital campaign. Finally, Leadership Formation, which is the critical part of Phase II of Disciples on the Way.

Council Notes from Birmingham (August 2017)

A proposal was made at the August meeting of the Birmingham Council to postpone the election of Council officers until February 2018 in light of the fact that officers can serve two consecutive terms. A motion was made and approved to retain the current slate of officers.

  • Members recommended that Catholic Charities be brought into the conversation concerning the request of the Fraternity of the Poor of Jesus Christ, a public association of the faithful to establish a ministry in the diocese. The Brazilian-based association has an outpost in Kansas City, KS
  • A discussion took place in reference to the diocesan evangelization program. Suggestions from the July Orlando Convocation of Catholic Leaders event were mentioned.  Discipleship training, outreach to youth small groups and high school students is key. Discipleship.com was listed as a resource.  Bishop Baker added that stewardship and mission needed to be emphasized as well.
  • Minutes referred to a discussion regarding a recent meeting focusing on financing/subsidizing Catholic schools. Funding is tenuous in some cases. A suggestion was made to have some parishes without schools to partner with struggling schools. Other models beside the parish model of schools are on the table. Transportation choice to a central school location is important, as is civic support.
  • Members then discussed health insurance for retired priests. A suggestion was made to consult retired priests. Various features of the different policies were noted. A motion was made and passed to move forward. Implementation effective Jan. 1, 2018.
  • A program called Telemedicine for diocesan employees was discussed.
  • Finally, a new way to calculate Paid Time Off was discussed. Vacation and sick time would be wrapped into the new formulation.  A motion was made and unanimously passed to recommend the new formulation.

Council Notes from Owensboro (August 2017)

Bishop Medley reported on the Convocation of Catholic Leaders held in Orlando, July 1-4. A list of links to the keynote addresses was posted.

  • There was a local Encuentro on Aug. 19 at the Cathedral.
  • Bishop reported on the success of the Disciples Response Fund workshops.
  • Permanent diaconate ordinations took place on Sept. 16.
  • The 4th annual VOCARE event to raise funds to support seminarians and religious like was held Sept. 22
  • Listening sessions with youth and young adults are being conducted throughout the diocese in preparation for the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in Fall 2018.
  • 225 women were registered to women’s August retreat.
  • Pastors were asked to encourage youth to consider attending the November biennial gathering of the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis Nov. 16-18.
  • Bishop reported on diocesan staff changes over the summer.
  • The chancellor gave a report on the Annual Appeal (attached to minutes).
  • The new Chief Financial Officer was introduced to members. A review of the parish assessment policy took place. The CFO will take the proposed wording and rework it in light of consensus of Council Members. He will bring back the updated policy for members’ review at a future Council meeting.
  • An extensive discussion took place about refurbishing/updating the Bishop Cotton Apartments priests retirement residence. A questionnaire will be developed and circulated at the deanery level to elicit input from the priests.
  • The Called by Name program was discussed. A suggestion was made to keep the program year-round. Pastors were asked to speak about the program at Mass twice a year. Suggestion: World Day of Prayer for Vocations and National Vocations Awareness Week.
  • NFPC president Fr. Tony Cutcher conducted a Priests and Bishops in Council Workshop on Sept. 18.
  • A question was raised about the purpose of the September Mass counts. The topic will be placed on the agenda of a future meeting.
  • Finally, a member asked if any priest would be interested in learning to say Mass in Spanish. Request topic be discussed at the deanery meetings.

Council Notes from Monterey (August 2017)

Bishop Garcia announced that two Scalabrini priests will begin ministry as pastoral administrators in the diocese.

– The Priests Retreat is scheduled for Oct. 2-6. Bishop Gordon Bennett will be the retreat director.

– Plans for celebrating the diocese’s Golden Jubilee were discussed. The Anniversary Mass will take place on Dec. 14. The diocese was established on Dec. 14, 1967.

– The new Director of Finance was introduced.

– Active plan with a committee was formed to establish a parish council in each parish.

– Nominees are being sought for the Pro-Ecclesia Award.

– An extensive discussion took place in regard to training for priests to conduct the Rite of Exorcism and Deliverance Prayer.

–  The Safe Environment Audit was positive. A suggestion was made to diocese’s charter.

– Minutes note the diocese has 27 seminarians in various phases of Formation. Suggestions were made citing ways to encourage more local vocations.

– Teams from the Faith Formation Dept. and Catholic Charities are listing resource fairs throughout the diocese to interact with parish staffs. Minutes note a focus on developing potential lay leadership and type of training/education needed.

– A follow up discussion took place about the July Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando. Minutes note ways of reaching out as missionary disciples to those on the margins. A concern was raised about V Encuentro and the Priests Summit happening at the same time. Possibility of combining events was suggested.

– A conversation took place concerning the spiritual needs of the Latino community. Minutes note as group Latinos seem especially hungry for more and varied experiences. Discussion on this will continue.

– Finally, minutes note an increase in those who kneel to receive Holy Communion. Consensus formed that clarification from Bishop Garcia is needed on this issue.

Council Notes from Jefferson City (June 2017)

The first item on the agenda of the June meeting of the Jefferson City Council was a consideration of a priests’ photo directory. After discussion members suggested that a group photo could be taken at the annual Chrism Mass or individual priests could submit a photo for posting on the appropriate diocesan web page.

  • A discussion took place about implementing an online version of the Catholic Missourian, the diocesan newspaper. Subscribers will have a choice of receiving a print copy, an online link or both.
  • Members expressed disappointment about the discontinuation of the hard copy of the diocesan directory. Minutes note financial reasons may have been the cause.
  • An extensive discussion took place about plans for the Christ the King Multicultural Celebration. Ways to encourage more involvement from the parishes was mentioned. Pastors inclusion in planning is critical insofar marketing, announcements, etc.
  • A discussion took place in regard to ministry with children of gay couples and children with gender identity issues. Minutes note there is no “one size fits all” approach. The coordinator of youth ministry referred to possible accommodations, but allowed that what “accommodations” mean could be confusing. One member noted the difference in dealing with grade school and high school students. Minutes note solutions must be in line with the Catholic faith.
  • The Ministry to Priests report noted that Fr. Ron Knott will be the speaker for the 2017 Priests Institute. Fr. Michael Joncas has been invited to facilitate the 2018 Institute. Benedictine Father Eugene Hensell has tentatively agreed to be the retreat master for 2018.
  • A report of the 2017 NFPC Priests Convocation held in Anaheim, CA in April was attached to minutes.
  • The Vocation Office report noted one ordination to the Priesthood on June 3.

There were 705 candidates at the March Vocation Reflection Days

The Sixth Grade Vocation days in May hosted 586 students with 116 adults registered to accompany them.

The director attended the Conference on Hispanic Vocations at the Southeast Pastoral Institute in May. Minutes note a very positive gathering.