The Bishop was unable to attend the meeting because of an unexpected USCCB committee meeting in Washington, DC, so the Vicar General conducted the meeting. Four lay guests and two guest clergy were present for some of the meeting, and two Council members participated via conference call-in.
Members were asked to remember a priest who died and was laid to rest last week. Also, all were asked to continue to pray for all diocesan priests, especially those experiencing illness, as well as for all who have suffered abuse by the clergy, and for guidance and forgiveness during this crisis in the church. The Our Father was recited.
- The minutes of the last meeting were unanimously approved as written
- Discussion on clergy sexual abuse, covering questions prepared in advance by the Bishop
The questions (each discussed by all present):
– Were the Bishop’s letter and that of the Holy Father inserted in the bulletin and read in your parishes?
– What was the response from the parishioners to the letters?
– Did any of your parishes provide for special prayers and listening sessions for the faithful to share their thoughts and feelings?
– Do you have some sense of the degree of their bewilderment, hurt, anger and disappointment?
– How are you yourself, your friends, and the people with whom you work feeling about all of this?
– Would it be helpful to try to provide an opportunity during the Convocation for the priests to discuss the current crisis?
– Is there more that the Diocese should be doing to strengthen child protection and support those who have been harmed?
– Do any Cabinet Members have specific concerns and suggestions about things they can do? Vicars Forane? Council Members?
– Any specific concerns from the diocesan Child Protection department?
– Other questions, ideas and recommendations?
The Vicar General thanked all for their contributions to the discussion and then excused those present not involved with the rest of the agenda items.
- Introduction of new Director of Education
– Vicar General said he and the Bishop were very pleased with his acceptance of position, which will also be titled Superintendent of Schools
– Will work very closely with pastors of parishes with Catholic schools; pastor’s focus will continue to be the spiritual welfare and oversight of the school, Director’s focus will be academic requirements and qualifications of school and staff
– The Director/Superintendent spoke briefly and said he will support and help the pastors in any way that is needed, and that he plans to work closely with the Director of Faith Formation
- Introduction of new Director of Faith Formation
– The Bishop considers both appointments very important and they were made after considerable deliberation, and wants both to work in close collaboration
– Everyone was given a bio on both men
– All parishes need strengthened Faith Formation, so this appointment will also be a Cabinet position for closer collaboration with diocesan officials
– The Director spoke briefly about his distinct style and program preferences
- Election of Officers
– New Council Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer were elected
– All former officers were thanked for their service
- The Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring update
– The Vicar General announced that the Bishop would be closing two parishes, changing them to chapel status of a third parish
– Note: When the Bishop returned from his USCCB committee meeting, he contacted each Council member to hear their input on this decision, as is directed in the Canon code
– The Bishop worked closely with the pastor and the parish leadership in this process, and the pastor has worked with parishioners with sensitivity throughout the process
– Details were discussed
- Clergy pay increases
– The Vicar General stated clergy salaries across the diocese need reviewing
– The last salary review by the Council was in 2001
– A committee will be formed to review clergy pay and allowances, as well as travel reimbursement practices
– Discussion followed
- Vocation Report
– There will be a workshop in November, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus
– It will be for parish vocation coordinators, pastors, principals, teachers, DRE’s, catechists and anyone wanting to promote vocations
- Health and Well Being
A brief summary was given on the health status of a deacon and four priests who have been experiencing illnesses
The next Presbyteral Council meeting is scheduled for November 5, 2018.
The Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood was read and the meeting was adjourned.