Council Notes from Monterey (January 2017)

Bishop Garcia reported the death of Bishop Jose J. Madera, M.Sp.S., Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, on Jan. 21.

– The Latin Mass Community was discussed

– Human Resources for Priests and Mandated Reporter Training for Priests is being planned for the near future.

– The new Director of the Diaconate introduced himself to members.

– An extensive discussion took place on the topic of the Sanctuary Movement. Members expressed a variety of ways in which the diocese and parishes can assist without breaking the law. Catholic Charities would also be involved in helping immigrants at risk.

– The diocesan Parish Relationship Manager for Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services is doing outreach to parishes on the new Catholic cremation guidelines (Ad resurgendum cum Christo – “To Rise with Christ”).

– The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) requested to bring their program to the diocese. Minutes note the diocese would benefit from establishing a Department of Campus Ministry. Also would inquire if the CCC has a statewide vision for campus ministry.

– The Chrism Mass is scheduled for April 10.

– The Diocesan History Book has been delivered to most parishes.

– The Solar Energy initiative is on track. Bishop Garcia participated in a press conference on Jan. 20, to announce the rollout.

– Bishop Garcia appointed the vicar general to help with upcoming Confirmations.

– Minutes note the diocese has 19 seminarians in various phases of formation. 7 are in their Pastoral Year. 4 are scheduled to be ordained to the diaconate in May and 4 to be ordained to the priesthood in June.

–  The recently retired director of Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of San Bernardino will speak to a joint meeting of the Pastoral and Presbyteral Councils in March. The goal is to do training of personnel in models of Pastoral Planning. A suggestion was made that the diocese form an office of planning.

–  Minutes note the director of the Diaconate Office will be directing Lay Leadership in the diocese.

– The Intentional Presbyterate process was discussed.

– The Synod for Young People to take place in 2018 per a handout form the USCCB

– National marriage Week observed Feb.7-14.

– The Design Meeting with an organization specialist from the Taos Institute and vicars is scheduled for March.

– Minutes note the diocese will sponsor a Catechetical Conference this year.

– The diocese’s Golden Jubilee Mass is scheduled for Dec. 17, 2017.

Council Notes from Owensboro (November 2016)

In his report at the November meeting of the Owensboro Council, Bishop Medley informed members that the USCCB is publishing a letter on racism in 2018 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Bishop invited ten pastors to join him for a “Vision day” at his home as a new forum for listening to priests. This practice will continue until all priests have been invited for the conversation.

– Minutes note the updated version of diocesan policy manual will contain information on formal priests’ reviews. The Vicar for Clergy will be consulted. This issue will be discussed further.

– A question was raised concerning whether a priest may choose to take less salary from a parish than the diocese requires and donate the excess portion to the parish. After an extensive discussion, it was determined that the priest draw a full salary then donate the portion he desires – two separate actions.

– The director of Hispanic Ministry will invited to a future meeting to address how to best accommodate undocumented immigrants who choose not to marry for fear of creating a paper trail of their activity.

–  Finally, a question from a deanery about allocation of funds addressed in the diocesan financial report was tabled until a representative of the deanery could be present.

Council Notes from Green Bay (January 2017)

– Council members were informed that Holy Name Retreat House on Chambers Island in Door County was sold. The diocese was holding on to 26 of the 70-acre property.

– A motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed to recommend a 2.5 percent salary increase for the upcoming fiscal year. The current business mileage rate was also approved. The term fiscal will now be in front of year.

– Members discussed the principle training/education project for the diocese.  Discipleship is the main focus and is being rolled out in two phases. Minutes note by 2020 all major stakeholders will have gone though the process.

– Discussion continued about the retired priest independent living facility at Grellinger Hall [see Council Notes, June 2016]. A survey was sent to priests 65 and older. Results showed an interest in using it as an assisted living facility. Minutes note there are currently six assisted living facilities in the diocese.

– The Parish Survey developed by a research group at St. Norbert College garnered a 50 percent response rate. Three points surfaced during Council discussion:

Ÿ Distinguish between priests and other job groups

Ÿ Extent to which council members and other priests in the field are in agreement or not

Ÿ Percent of responses that were from those between the ages of 18 and 24.

– In reference to the discussion, Bishop Ricken mentioned a book by Gary Keller, “The One Thing.” The take-away – How can leadership best serve parishes? More data will be forthcoming from the open-ended questions

– Member discussed forming a Liturgical Commission. It would have a mix of 10 to 12 members both lay and clergy.

– Finally, a member suggested a better wellness plan.

Council Notes from Louisville (November 2016)

The November meeting of the Louisville Council began with a report from the director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky about how the change in control of the state legislature may effect issues like school choice, pro-life, criminal justice reform, health care, and Right to Work laws.

– The president of EdChoice, a non-profit organization that aims to give families more choices in education, explained to members the differences between Charter Schools, Vouchers, Educational Savings Accounts, and Scholarship Tax Credits. He is trying to build grass roots support for the programs and offered to come to talk to Parish Councils or others in parishes about the various programs.

– The vicar general discussed a worksheet showing how the net assessment rate to total, income might be if the assessment models used by surrounding dioceses were applied in the Archdiocese. At this point they are simply options to review.

– The chancellor shared that a subcommittee of the Archdiocesan Finance Council has been appointed. He explained the various investments options that will be available to parishes. The chancellor also announced that there will not be an archdiocesan-wide capital campaign at this time.

– A new design for 401K retirement plans should be in place by Jan. 1, 2018. The Priests’ Compensation Committee is reviewing overall compensation for priests and may recommend changing the contribution amount for priests’ retirement.

– Included in the updated USCCB strategic plan initiative is the 5th Encuentro to take place in 2018. Diocesan and provincial gatherings in 2017 will lead up to the 2018 event.

– There will be five regional gatherings for deacons throughout the Archdiocese this spring.

– The chancellor reported that the Archdiocesan Finance Council received a clean bill of health

– Eight parishes will be involved in a pilot project to discern processes for future growth. A church-consulting agency will assist the parishes.

– 70% of the goal of the Catholic Services Appeal has been reached.

– The vicar for priests is meeting priests approaching retirement. The Priests’ Personnel Board is working on scenarios and clarifying which parishes might be open listed.

– Minutes of January meeting of the Region 3 revealed a communication concern in chaplaincy services in one healthcare system.

– Finally, Region 3 members were unanimous in their decision to require deacons to obtain written permission of a pastor to conduct a funeral service for a parishioner.

Council Notes from Monterey (November 2016)

The first topic of discussion at the November meeting of the Monterey Council centered on campus ministry at University of California Santa Cruz and California State University Monterey Bay. Focus is on a long-term approach to campus ministry in light of decline in the number of priests in the future. Suggestion made to dedicate long term priestly ministers who are specially trained for the position. Consensus was a full service ministerial approach is preferable.

– The finance officer gave an update on the diocesan-wide Solar Energy Initiative. The diocese is collaborating with the Romero Institute, a Santa Cruz-based interfaith law and public policy center on this effort.

– The proposed Presbyteral summit is still under consideration. Securing the services of a priest of the Diocese of Orange to focus on the topic of an Intentional Presbyterate was mentioned.

– Minutes note a discussion about seminarian formation in light of the withdrawal of the Sulpicians from St. Patrick Seminary & University in Menlo Park. A consideration was put forth to use Assumption Seminary in San Antonio.

– The Vatican document updating guidelines on cremation (Ad resurgendum cum Christo – “To Rise with Christ”) was distributed. Outreach services to parishes are available through the Parish Relationship Manager.

– Minutes note a Catholic Army Chaplain reported that his salary was reduced. The matter may be raised with the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

– Bishop Garcia will send a letter to Pastors requesting three new members for the Pastoral Council Board. The Board has approximately 18 lay members.

– Consideration was discussed of having the Faith Formation Department host conferences in the North and South areas of the diocese.

– Two candidates have been chosen as finalists for the Director of Diaconate and Lay Ministry Leadership.

– Finally, Bishop passed around a copy of a book he received as a gift titled, “What if Your Pastor is a Dud?” by Brian T. Joyce (Aventine Press, Sept. 2016). Minutes note he thought some would find it interesting.

Council Notes from Sioux City (December 2016) 

The 2017 Sioux City Council budget was passed without objection.

–  The meeting began with an extensive discussion of the diocesan Pastoral Plan, Ministry 2025. Many issues are being taken into account including how parishes will be clustered, boundary adjustments, priest personnel to support the changes, change from parish to oratory status, consideration of finances and distribution of assets, and timing of changes.

– Next, members discussed the dwindling number of marriage ceremonies over the past ten years – about a 20% decline, minutes note.  A question arose of whether it was a cultural or demographic phenomenon. Catechizing, evangelizing, and preaching elements were noted. The issue of “destination” weddings arose.  The implication of marriage without a civil license was mentioned. No conclusions were reached.

– The Personnel Board sent a survey to retired priests regarding availability and willingness for various kinds of coverage needs taking into consideration health and other circumstances. Results to be shared with the Personnel Board.

– The issue of combining special collections was discussed. Discussion at the Deanery meetings was suggested. Any changes decided upon would not take place for two years.

Finally, a suggestion was made whether it was useful, needed or a desired option to have a nurse visit priests in addition to fraternal visits. Issue to be taken up pending deanery input.

Council Notes from Louisville (October 2016)

The first item on the agenda of the October meeting of the Louisville Council was the approval of topics for Council meetings for the next year.

– An extensive discussion with the director of family ministries took place in reference to Pope Francis apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.  Enhancing marriage preparation programs was mentioned, including dealing with couples in the military that are separated geographically, engaging widows and widowers entering subsequent marriages. Also the role of the priest in spiritual direction for a couple preparing for marriage and beyond was explored.

– Archbishop Kurtz thanked priests who are involved in prison ministry.

– Two Apostles of Jesus priests have arrived in the archdiocese.

– A possibility exists that some Evangelizing Sisters of Mary may come to serve in the Archdiocese.

– Plans are being made to hold five meetings around the Archdiocese with deacons and their spouses.

– The Chancellor remarked that the Catholic Services Appeal got off to a good start. He also talked about options for development campaigns within the Archdiocese.

– He offered that work is being done to help parishes clarify policies for when an employee’s behavior no longer makes them an authentic witness to the Catholic faith.

The Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Louisville [PCAL] met to evaluate and coordinate communication tools such as websites.

The Archdiocese is in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

– The Vicar for Priests informed members of new religious priests and sisters who have recently arrived in the Archdiocese.

– He encouraged all priests to complete the Stewardship forms.

– There could be six possible openings for pastor next year.

– CARA executive Fr. Tom Gaunt, SJ was the main speaker at he Nov. 29-30 Provincial meeting held in Owensboro.

– Region One Catholic Coalition hosted its first Filipino retreat

– ROCC reported that three new Catholic schools have opened pointing to an increase in enrollment and funding sources.

Finally, minutes of the Region VI meeting noted concern among some members about sharing information on priests’ benefits including retirement planning and unexpected healthcare costs.

Council Notes from Jefferson City (October 2016)

The October meeting of the Jefferson City Council began with a consensus decision affirming the current practice of the Priests’ Purgatorial Society of requiring three Masses be celebrated for a deceased priest. The recommendation was sent to Bishop Gaydos.

– Discussion of emergency plans for weekend coverage was considered.  A deacon would only be called in an emergency situation. The vicar general said were only two times when no substitutes were available on a weekend since he was in office. Minutes note that deaneries have discussions in order to develop plans for emergency coverage.

– A motion was made, seconded and passed to recommend a group of ten priests for a three-year term on the Pastor’s Review Panel.

– The proposed dates for six Council meetings for 2017 were announced.

– A discussion took place regarding registration payment for retired priests for the Priests’ Institute. The Council will take up the matter at a future meeting.

–  The large discernment class for the permanent diaconate was noted. A question was raised whether deacons can be assigned to more parishes.

– The director for Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri as well as the Coordinator for Youth Ministry will be invited to a future Council meeting.

– Minutes note property insurance is up to date and sensible.

– The Ministry to Priests report noted a discussion regarding the election of an International Priest as a representative to the Priests’ Ministry Committee. The report also noted that not all dioceses have regular meetings with their International Priests or the newly ordained as Jefferson City does.

– Fr. Ron Knott will conduct the 2017 Priests’ Institute. Fr. Michael Joncas will conduct the 2018 gathering.

– Jesuit Father Richard Clifford will be the presenter for the 2017 Priests’ Retreat.

– Finally, in a statement about the summer Vicar for Clergy Conference it was stated that priests in general are not truly aware of how busy they are in their daily lives. Prayer, exercise, and a day off to recoup has enormous beneficial effects.

Council Notes from New Orleans (October 2016)

The October meeting of the New Orleans Council began with a report by the Human Resources director on new regulations for overtime pay which were to become effective in December. Accuracy of keeping time records was emphasized.

– The rector of Notre Dame Seminary spoke to members about the collaborative effort between his parish and the seminary. Minutes note the effort will provide seminarians with a greater experience of day-to-day parish life without adding additional programs to their formation experience. The interaction with parishioners will be more consistent and will also enable the seminarians an opportunity for interaction with students in the school.  An evaluation will take place to determine whether this situation will become a long-term arrangement.

– A discussion took place about updating policy regarding priest retreats. A proposal was offered to have the archdiocese continue to offer three retreats for priests each year. The priest would have the option to attend one of the archdiocesan sponsored retreats or making his own. The proposal was seconded and unanimously approved.

– Members affirmed the continuation of the study week, but noted that the scheduling needs to be evaluated. In addition it was suggested that the study weeks could be videotaped which would give priests options if they could not attend.

– Several suggestions offered from the recent convocation noted that more time be afforded for fellowship between different groups of priests. Also having confessors available so that the Sacrament could be celebrated during the convocation.

– Minutes note a discussion that took place regarding a parish that requested one Mass on Sunday be celebrated ad orientem. Further discussion will occur before permission is granted.

– Finally, a discussion ensued about assignment of permanent deacons. Comments included how permanent deacons can best serve parishes and how that service can used to promote vocations to the permanent diaconate. Minutes note the various consultative groups on the permanent diaconate will continue to reflect on this and it will be a future discussion item for the Presbyteral Council.

Council Notes for Owensboro (October 2016)

Bishop Medley reported on his participation at the bi-annual Catholic Extension meeting. He noted that while the while the organization still focuses on building churches in mission dioceses, they’ve expanded their purpose to include programmatic endeavors. He noted Catholic Extension has been generous to the diocese through the years.

– The Third Annual VOCARE event in September was very successful.

– The response to the annual appeal has been very strong. Concern was expressed about the timing of the appeal. The Stewardship Office will evaluate.

– In new business, the Cursillo Leadership Team gave a report. They asked members to encourage participation of the movement among parishioners.

– The Director of Social Concerns Office provided members with an overview of the scope of their activities. Members expressed appreciation for the good counseling service the counselors provide and with the ability to help defray some of the cost.

– The Task Force on the Evaluation of Deaneries reported positive feedback from the Deans. Based on the responses, the task force concluded the current structure works well and no further action is needed at this time.

Finally, minutes note that CARA executive director, Jesuit Father Tom Gaunt will be one of the keynoters at the Provincial meeting Nov. 29-30 held in Owensboro this year.