Council Notes from Jefferson City (February 2017)

The February meeting of the Jefferson City Council began with a discussion led by the Superintendent of Catholic Schools and the Coordinator of Youth Ministry relating to a pastoral process of accompaniment and dialogue addressing children and youth in relation to gender concerns and non-traditional families. All priests were invited to a meeting on May 9, where the process would be explained more fully.

– Members together with the Superintendent of Catholic Schools discussed the importance of having families with school children attend weekend worship. Suggestions and points to share were made including recognizing and welcoming school children and their families, offering babysitting services. Handouts were distributed.

– Pastoral Center staff now has job descriptions. Performance reviews and goal setting was completed by the end of June.  There are now three bi-lingual staff members at the chancery. Minutes note that periodically Spanish translation service is needed in the Tribunal office.

– Part 4 of the 2010 Pastoral Plan was discussed. It includes assessing the viability and vitality of parishes. A religious sister who facilitates strategic planning for church groups is collecting information supplied by parishes. A letter was sent to parishes explaining the process.

– Results of the October 2016 Count was distributed and attached to minutes.

–  Discussion took place concerning instituting a common payroll system for each parish. An outline was distributed along with a recommendation of a company. Minutes note this would simplify the payroll process and save parishes money. Input from members was requested.

–  The following members were elected as officers:

Chair – Father Francis W. Doyle
Vice Chair – Father Augustine A. Okoli
Treasurer – Father David A. Means
Secretary – Father Matthew j. Flatley

– Bishop Gaydos asked members to keep in mind the tremendous fear that is affecting the Hispanic Community. Minutes note that some individuals are shoeing up at residences asking to check residence cards. The Hispanic Ministry Office held a workshop for those affected with immigration lawyers in attendance. The workshop was recorded in order to reach the wider Hispanic community.
– Finally, Bishop read a letter from Charleston Bishop Robert Guglielmone, who heads the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, concerning the Boy Scouts of America and transgender youth in the organization. Excerpts of Bishop Guglielmone’s letter together with an excerpt of a letter from the National Office of the Boy Scouts of America were attached.

Council Notes from Monterey (May 1, 2017)

The first item on the agenda for the May 1 of the Monterey Council meeting was the announcement of the new director of St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista.

– A lengthy discussion took place on the topic of sanctuary parishes. The consensus was that naming a sanctuary parish is mostly a symbolic act. Catholic Charities has been organizing forums where immigrants can receive information, talk to attorneys and receive practical assistance.

–  Members suggested that a study group be formed to make recommendations on where formation for the sacrament of Confirmation for young people should take place, either at a parish or in a Catholic high school.

–  Members discussed issues surrounding attendance at the National Association of Filipino Priests meeting later this year

– An extensive discussion took place on immigration issues. Minutes note Bishop Garcia sent the document titled “Preparing Your Family for Immigration Enforcement” in Spanish and English to all priests and deacons.  In addition, minutes note the resources of COPA (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action) and Catholic Charities to assist refugees.

–  Four men will be ordained to the priesthood and four to the transitional diaconate.

–  The Pastoral Resource Day is being planned for August/September. It will likely be at five locations. Minutes note the goal is to develop a school of lay ministry.

– Bishop will join the newly formed Monterey County Sheriff’s Advisory Group.

– Bishop and the Chief Financial Officer will meet with the Latin Mass Community Minister.

– The hope is that the new youth minister can begin her new position in July or August.

–  Finally, minutes note planning taking place regarding the May 2018 Priests Summit. A number of suggestions were made on how to finance the summit including finding sponsors to cover some costs. Also mentioned were a combination of financing from parishes, the council, and priests themselves. The goal is to have as many priests as possible attend the summit and stay throughout the week.

Council Notes from Owensboro (March 2017)

During a discussion of Bishop Emeritus John McRaith’s funeral, Bishop Medley expressed the deep and authentic affection Bishop McRaith had for his priests.

– Approximately 500 youth, many from the diocese, participated in the Youth 2000 retreat.

– The chief financial officer distributed a Budget & History covering budgeted expenses and revenue for 2016-17 and 2017-18. There was a substantial increase in the Grants/Subsidies figure due to the successful Disciples Response Fund campaign. A portion of the dollars will be returned to parishes.

A pay increase is anticipated along with the implementation of an Office of Evangelization and hiring a director of Youth Ministry.

The overall investment portfolio return is positive due to market conditions.

Program & Service Fees are now being recorded with both revenue and expenses posted, which provides for a more accurate accounting.

Three diocesan priests are sabbatical.

Five priests will be arriving in the diocese. Two are international priests. The diocese will cover the international priests salaries.

The diocesan assessment will be decreased from 15.5% to 15.25%.

–  The Director of the Diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry gave a report on the V Encuentro Process, the Building Intercultural Competence Workshop, and Immigration issues [Go to: https://owensborodiocese.org/2017/02/27/bishop-william-medleys-statement-on-immigration/ – for Bishop Medley’s statement on immigration.

– There was an extensive discussion concerning a petition to have a church in the diocese declared a minor basilica.

Council Notes from Steubenville (May 2017)

The Steubenville Register, the diocesan newspaper (June 2, 2017) reported the following activity from the Steubenville Presbyteral Council’s May meeting:

  • Recommended that Catholic youth receive the sacrament of Confirmation in the 5th Smaller parishes may combine 5th, 6th, and 7th grades for Confirmation.
  • After discussion, there was agreement to poll clergy to determine if they prefer a annual monetary salary increase or added insurance coverage.
  • Discussed ways to boost the Priests’ Retirement Plan
  • Heard a report form the stewardship and development director about the Mission Advancement Planning initiative. The more than 3,500 survey responses have been returned to parishes. Parish groups have had a second training for the initiative.
  • The diocese’s strategic plan will be unveiled to priests and parishes on July 1.
  • Bishop Monforton reminded member of the re-consecration of the diocese at a noon Mass on June 24 at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption in Marietta.
  • Parish training for a new evangelization tool, ChristLife on Sept. 29-30.
  • Possibility for younger clergy to participate in additional formation on a variety of topics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  • Finally, the next council meeting will take place on Sept. 14.

Council Notes from New Orleans (April 2017)

The Superintendent of Catholic Schools gave a report to New Orleans Council members at their April meeting. The report involved matters concerning admissions, marketing, and communications. Members offered a few revisions especially in regard to consultation and communication with pastors of parishes without schools. The new superintendent, who takes office on July 1, was also introduced.

– An extensive discussion took place with leaders of the Office of Religious Education and Family Life Apostolate in reference to development of an archdiocesan plan to address pornography. The plan would have a parish and school focus. Minutes note financial assistance may be available from a Christian Internet accountability and filtering company.

– Council members unanimously approved a motion to recommend elimination of a question on archdiocesan job applications regarding being convicted of a felony. The recommendation does not include positions in Catholic schools. Background checks and other assessments would continue. Minutes note the hope is that eliminating the question on the application would expand opportunity for those who are returning to the workforce after being convicted of a felony.

– Members heard a report from the Tribunal from the Judicial Vicar. He reported a marked increase in the number of annulment cases in 2016 likely due to the elimination of fees as well as the impression the process is faster. Minutes note if all materials and documents are filed timely, the annulment process is usually concluded in nine to twelve months.

–  A draft of parish pastoral council policy was presented to members. It addition to the council, it will be submitted for review to the Council of Deans and Administrative Council. Afterwards the policy will be brought back to the council for final approval.

– Finally, the chair of the Continuing Formation Committee distributed a handout of a three-year plan for priestly continuing formation. The April Study Day focused on immigration.

Council Notes from Louisville (March 2017)

Council Notes from Louisville (March 2017)

The first item on the Louisville Council’s March meeting was a report from the Diaconate director on the current formation program. There are 23 married men in the program, which focuses on the four pillars; i.e. human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral. St. Meinrad’s handles the intellectual part of formation. Two years of supervised ministry are now a part of the program. One year in hospital ministry and another of ministry is chosen from various options. Pastors are encouraged to identify possible candidates from within their parishes.

  • A discussion took place in reference to Laudato Si’. Members shared ways they have preached about integral ecology and “best practices” used in their parishes.
  • Archbishop Kurtz shared that he is reading and recommends  “The Harp of Prophecy: Early Christian Interpretation of the Psalms,” by Fr. Brian E. Daley, SJ. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015).
  • Archbishop commented on the success of the annual Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) and commented on the increase of participants.
  • Archbishop also spoke to the issues of refugees and the undocumented and offered he uses the principle of constructive dialogue to guide him. He noted that government officials cannot enter church or parish property without a search warrant unless they believe a crime is happening at that time.
  • The chancellor reported that the new Personnel Policy & Procedures Manual will take effect July 1. A new feature includes a Christian Witness Statement. Maternity/Paternity has been extended to two weeks.
  • Minutes note a few parishes are piloting the Discernment Process. The process will then be open for all parishes.
  • The vicar for clergy reported that the process of planning for Associate Pastors in still going on. Feedback about priests’ compensation is being received from several regions and individuals.
  • Region 3 March minutes reported an extensive conversation on priests’ compensation focusing mainly on health care, especially in retirement. “Health is not a luxury item.”
  • Finally, Region 6 March meeting minutes noted a report from the diaconate director reporting on the number of deacons. A question was asked: “Can we have a training program to help some [deacons] become administrators of parishes?”

Council Notes from Sioux City (January 2017)

The January meeting of the Sioux City Council began with an announcement of a triennial Convocation Oct. 16-19, 2017 and a triennial Retreat Oct. 15-18, 2018.

– The Committee for Continuing Formation of Priests is looking for active, engaged members and a new chair.

– In reference to Pastoral Planning, Deans are requested to recruit possible facilitators for parish/cluster planning. The job description was e-mailed. Motions were made, seconded and approved to recommend stipends and mileage rates for facilitator training and parish/cluster unit meetings.

–  There was an extensive report on the survey of retired priests in regard to availability and willingness to serve, including short term, long term and seasonal types of coverage needs. Minutes note most retired priests are willing to serve in some fashion when needed.

– The Special Collections schedule is still awaiting more deanery feedback.

– The issue of Nurse visits to retired priests was tabled pending more deanery feedback.

–  The head of the Priest Personnel Board expressed gratitude of the Board, Bishop Nickless to all priests for the willingness and flexibility encountered for this year’s personnel assignments. Due to preparations for implementing the Ministry 2025 pastoral plan there will not be the usual announcement of openings this year.

–  The Southwest Deanery reported they have no objection to reducing the Rite of Election to a single location in the future.

–  The October Convocation will have a presentation by a team from NOCERCC on Renewing Sunday Worship.

– Minutes note 9 people, including the Bishop will be attending the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, July 1-4.

– Teams have been trained in all four Iowa dioceses to present on end-of-life-issues

– “Education Savings Accounts” are being considered. Implementation would probably be incremental, according to minutes.

– Finally, Bishop reiterates the most fundamental reason for pastoral planning is to revitalize parish and ecclesial life. The number of priests and demographic changes are relevant as well.

Council Notes from Louisville (February 2017)

The first agenda item of the February of the Louisville Council was a suggestion from the vicar for priests that the Policy Manual for the Remuneration for Priests be updated. Suggestions include:

  • Considering an annual rather than a multi-year compensation review
  • Expenses related to supply ministry
  • Reimbursement for out-of-pocket health care expenses
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Required auto insurance coverage
  • Compensation for International Priests, especially those in religious communities
  • Compensation for service beyond the age of retirement
  • Vision and dental insurance.

Members were asked to discuss the issues at regional meetings and report beck at the regular meeting

  •  The chancellor gave a report on parish budgets indicating between 55% and 80% of expenses are for personnel compensation and facilities. Other issues include:
  • Ways to reduce utility expenses was mentioned
  • Funding for planned repairs may be included in the parish budget rather than a capital campaign
  • 80% of parish income comes from regular donations and 20% from special fundraising
  • Particular attention to annual financial reporting by parishes was encouraged.
  • Archbishop Kurtz reported on his trip to Vietnam
  • The topic of Saturday evening weddings was discussed. There are few impediments to a Saturday evening wedding Mass after the anticipated Mass. Minutes note that each parish can decide if they wish to offer the option of a Saturday evening wedding balancing the effort with other obligations priests have on weekends.
  • Immigration issues were discussed. Minutes note there is much fear among undocumented Hispanics about possible deportation with the unintended effect that some may hesitate to report crimes for fear of being deported.
  • The chancellor reported the Catholic Services Appeal exceeded its goal. He remarked that that first time participants in the appeal increased 2.5%
  • The vicar for priests reported the process of matching open-listed parishes with priests called to serve them is continuing.
  • A report from the regions notes a discussion encouraging Hispanic participation in the diaconate formation program.
  • Finally, challenges in pastoral care of families wishing to receive the sacraments but not fully participating in preparation for those sacraments was brought up and discussed.

Council Notes from New Orleans (December 2016)

The first item on the agenda of the December meeting of the New Orleans Council was Social Media Policy for archdiocesan offices. Minutes note that policy focuses on general language and behavior with a proviso that church employees do not mix personal and institutional social media outreach. In addition, minutes note that archdiocesan social media policy can also be adapted for parishes. A member asked about appropriate supervisory oversight noting that the consequences of inappropriate social media behavior could result in termination.

– The Communication director and Pastoral Planning and Ministries director gave a presentation regarding revising the archdiocesan newsletter, Oracle. Minutes note the goal is to reduce the size, format, and frequency of the newsletter thus reducing the number of e-mails pastors need to receive. A new name will be created upon revision

– Members heard an update by the director of Pastoral Planning and Ministries on the implementation of archdiocesan synod. Members were requested to identify parish contact persons in the following areas: evangelization, vocations, marriage and family, and social justice. Archbishop Aymond encouraged all parishes to participate. Members were encouraged to discuss the synod at Deanery meetings.

– Greater awareness of lay ministry formation opportunities was discussed. Minutes noted the importance of extending a personal invitation to participate in lay ministry. The distinction between ministry and other forms of service was mentioned.

– Members were updated on the new curriculum for high school religion. In a related matter, the Office of Religious Education is developing a instrument to measure the effectiveness of Catholic religious education and formation programs.

– Due to distribution concerns, the matter of assigning deacons to specific terms was considered. This was a follow up to a previous council discussion. One membered opined that terms could break the culture of permanent assignments as well as creating a discernment process that could be helpful.

– The Continuing Formation Committee will send out dates for upcoming Continuing Formation Programs.

– Attached to minutes was a draft proposal on Parish Pastoral Councils

– Finally, Archbishop Aymond mentioned the possibility of forming a committee to review the various observances such as Catechetical Sunday and Family Sunday with an eye to determine if any overlapping exists.

Council Notes from Owensboro (January 20l7)

Bishop Medley reported on his trip to San Antonio for the SEEK conference held in conjunction with FOCUS, a Catholic campus ministry organization. He mentions his upcoming pilgrimage to Mexico to express gratitude to bishops for priests and sisters who minister in the diocese.

  • He offered observations on the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Reform.
  • In his State of the Diocese address, he offered his observations on:
    • Amoris Laetitia
    • Disciples Response Fund
    • Parish Audit Process
  • In new business a proposal was made to encourage all pastors to set aside one Sunday per year to focus exclusively on the Bible. A suggestion was made to form a small committee to look into the proposal. A member also sketched out the key points made in Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera, released in November 2016 at the end of the Year of Mercy.
  • Members heard a report on the provincial meeting hosted by the diocese from Nov. 29-30.
  • Finally, in listening to a report on prison ministry, members expressed their wish to see a concerted effort on the part of the diocese to assist priests in their attempt to gain access to jails and prisons.