Collaborative FAQ


St. Mary's and St. Richards will be entering into a collaborative this year.


Why is the Archdiocese putting Parishes into Collaborations?

The idea for collaborations is a result of Cardinal Seán O’Malley’s Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston. The mission of the Archdiocese is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastoral Planning is the process used to make preparations to carry out that work. Pastoral Planning is a critical tool in helping us understand our task today and work together to manage the resources available to meet the needs of the people of God. Always needed, it is particularly important as we cope with demographic and other major changes. In January 2011, Cardinal Seán O'Malley established an Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission. The Pastoral Plan recommended by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission is entitled Disciples in Mission. It seeks to revitalize the Church in Boston by positioning our parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization, the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ Jesus. Though the challenge of renewing the church will call for significant effort and a new way of staffing our parishes, we are committed to re-engaging the culture, the current generation of Catholics and providing a strong foundation for those who will follow us. Our Catholic faith is our most precious gift. Each element of the proposed plan is a means for enabling parish communities to fulfill the Gospel mission. Through studies of theology, canon law, and best practices in other dioceses, the Planning Commission identified effective ways to foster parish collaboration while maintaining the distinct identity and integrity of each parish. By establishing Pastoral Teams and Parish Collaboratives, it allows each Parish in the Collaborative to take advantage of greater collaboration and strengthen the Catholic communion through a unified pastoral vision. The proposed collaboration aims at the strengthening our parishes as efficacious missionary communities, able to successfully engage the many teaching, sanctifying, and governing aspects of the Church's mission, thus increasing the numbers of each Parishes parishioners and reaching out to Catholics who are not currently active in the church.

What is a collaborative?

One, two, or three parishes who share: A Pastor, a Pastoral Team, a Collaborative Pastoral Council, and a Local Pastoral Plan, but who maintain their own: identity, assets and obligations, buildings (including churches), and a Parish Finance Council.

If St. Mary's and St. Richard's are forming a Collaborative, does this mean that one of the churches in Danvers will be closing?

No, both St. Richard’s and St. Mary’s will remain open, which is a key benefit of the new Pastoral Collaborative program. It is helpful to think of our two-parish Collaborative as an “affiliation of parishes” – not a new parish. St. Richard’s and St. Mary’s will each maintain its own identity – each with its own name, buildings, canonical rights, bank accounts, books, financial assets, and financial obligations.

Why do churches in the Archdiocese need this?

It is in each parish that the faithful – the clergy, the religious and the laity – experience Christ most fully through the preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of the Eucharist. It is from the parish that we are each called to take Christ and to bring him to friend and stranger alike. There are many serious challenges facing our parishes today. Three challenges that are particularly noteworthy are the continuing decline in participation by Catholics in their parishes; fewer priests, religious, and trained laity available for parochial service; and an increasing number of parishes that are unable to sustain themselves financially. Luckily, both St. Mary’s and St. Richard’s are financially stable. Our studies and consultations also clearly evidenced many strengths in our parish communities. Among these an increasing desire to share their resources for mutual benefit, a greater consciousness of our God-given responsibility to bring our brothers and sisters back to the active practice of the faith, and a real willingness to make the commitment of time and resources to receiving training in parish leadership and management, and the theology and best practices of the New Evangelization.

How are Collaboratives organized?

The 288 parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston will be organized into approximately 135 Parish Collaboratives; these Collaboratives consisting usually of two or three parishes, but sometimes only one, and, in rare occasions four parishes. In the past 9 years, 87 Collaboratives have been formed. We are part of Phase X, the last phase, which is the final 48 Collaboratives. The design of the parish Collaboratives will uphold the following principles: The parish Collaboratives support the unity and identity of each parish, while at the same time encouraging the parish communities to work together for the common good and the mission of the new evangelization. Each parish retains its identity and integrity as a distinct canonical entity, with its own name, church building, and responsibility for its own income, assets, resources, facilities, and financial obligations. The Collaboratives do not result in combining the assets and/or liabilities of parishes. The parish Collaboratives are a means for fostering common pastoral action and a common vision. They are not a kind of superstructure “above” the parish, nor do they come between the parish and the diocesan bishop.

How was it determined which parishes would be grouped together?

Parishes in close geographical proximity to each other, often located in the same town or zip code have been grouped together for logistical and practical purposes. In addition, the Archdiocese sought to ensure that the parishes in the Collaborative will have enough financial resources to sustain the Collaborative. Another metric that was used is the parishioner-to-priest ratio: about 1,600 parishioners attending weekly mass to one Pastor. (A second full-time priest, or Parochial Vicar, may be assigned to Collaboratives when weekly mass attendance exceeds 3,200 parishioners.) The analysis utilized to form Parish Collaboratives also took into account the “vitality” of the parishes, including the combined number of baptisms, weddings, funerals, and weekly mass attendees are in the parishes being grouped together. Trends in population growth, educational requirements, cultural and language changes, family and household economic challenges, and migration patterns were also considered. St. Richard’s and St. Mary’s were a natural fit forming a Parish Collaborative.

What is the process for selecting a Pastor for our collaborative??

Since we have now been selected as a Phase X (the final phase) Collaborative, Father Flannagan and Father Doyle have sent their letters of resignation to Cardinal Seán, to become effective in June 2023. As you know, Father Bruce has announced his retirement as well. Any priest who wants to apply for the position of Pastor may do so. The Regional Bishop, (Most Reverend Mark O’Connell) the Assistant Director of Clergy Personnel, (Sean Hickey) and a member of the Clergy Personnel Board, (Rev. Jonathan M. Gaspar) led by Sister Pat Boyle, CSJ Associate Director, Office of Pastoral Planning, came to a joint meeting of the St. Richard and St. Mary’s Pastoral Council, Finance Council and Staff members, to get their input regarding Pastor selection. This, in conjunction with the Parish Survey of the specifics of each Parish, will be used by the Clergy Personnel Board to discuss all available candidates and develop a list of names for Cardinal Sean’s consideration. Cardinal Seán will make his appointment, probably by mid-April 2023.

Who will be the new Pastor?

It may be that the best priest for the position will be one of the current pastors, or it may be best that a new pastor would come in from outside of the Collaborative. The assignment of the most suitable pastor is the single most important factor in ensuring the success of the Collaborative and its evangelization efforts. Each Collaborative will be assigned one single Pastor. He would be a priest: · whose reputation is well established · who is committed to the mission of the Church and to the New Evangelization · who has a proficiency in working in a Collaborative environment, with strong · skills of leadership, decision-making, oversight, and communication · who can work well with staff and parish councils · who can maintain an equitable relationship between/among the parishes · who is respectful of the different cultures of the parishes · who is willing to participate in significant training and evaluation

What are the criteria for a good Collaborative?

Good collaboration recognizes that all have different gifts, skills, and capacities that, when shared, contribute to building a stronger community which is vibrant, enthused and energized to work towards the common good of the parish and beyond. Good collaboration relies on good collaborators who: · cultivate a spirit of common purpose, support, and shared responsibility · engage with each other · have a high degree of commitment · respect each other’s skills · negotiate with each other to ensure coordinated action · resolve any differences or disputes.

How will a single Pastor run two parishes?

Through the use of Pastoral Teams. The pastoral teams may include parochial vicars, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers, including pastoral associates, school principals, directors of religious education and faith formation, business managers, music directors, youth ministers, and the administrative and facilities staff. Like the pastor, the members of the pastoral team are responsible for serving all the parishes in the Collaborative.

How will our Parish Councils and Finance Councils change once the Collaborative is launched?

There will be one Pastoral Council for both Parishes, to advise the one Pastor and to oversee the implementation of the one Local Pastoral Plan. However, each Parish will have its own Finance Council, to oversee the financial accounts, assets, and obligations of each individual Parish. The two Finance Councils will come together regularly and hold joint meetings.

What about our finances? St. Mary's has been very well managed, will we start paying for debts that aren’t ours?

No, each parish is responsible for its own income, assets, resources, facilities, and financial obligations. Pastors and business managers will be trained to administer the several budgets in the Collaborative. The training will help ensure, for example, that parish accounts are kept strictly separate from one another and that each parish bears the responsibility for the real costs of its mission and its own patrimony (maintaining its buildings, facilities, etc.).

How will one Pastor manage two distinct parishes and their needs?

The pastor, pastoral team, and councils of each parish Collaborative will participate in extensive theological and practical training for the New Evangelization, including: · education in the theology of and skills for the New Evangelization · management and leadership skills, including team building, structuring a pastoral team, and appropriate delegation of responsibilities · running and participating in successful staff meetings, setting priorities, and monitoring and evaluating performance · communication skills, Collaborative decision-making, and conflict resolution skills · human resource issues, including hiring an effective staff, managing a team, and cultural sensitivity · civil law and canon law issues related to parish governance · budgeting and financial management in a multiple parish setting, including transparency and reporting · technological issues, including data security · best practices in multiple-parish pastoring, both from our own experience in the Archdiocese of Boston and from the experiences of other dioceses around the country · the development and implementation of Collaborative pastoral plans

How is evangelization part of the Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston?

Cardinal Sean, echoing the teaching of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, has repeatedly emphasized that the Church will only be strengthened to the extent that every practicing Catholic embraces the “New Evangelization,” the work of reaching out to Catholics who are not currently active in the Church. Evangelization is a component of the Parish Collaborative Process because Evangelization and Collaboration are two critical ways which will enable the mission of Christ and t

How will the new Collaborative bring Catholics back to the Church?

Each Collaborative be required to develop a pastoral plan for the Collaborative within eight to twelve months of the inauguration of the Collaborative. The Collaborative pastoral plan will be a broad commitment of the parishes of each Collaborative on how to use their resources and energy, in the best way possible, to operate effective and efficient parish programs and to be strongly focused on the New Evangelization. The Collaborative pastoral plans will allow the Archdiocesan pastoral plan to be implemented appropriately on the local level. Local decision-making means that the Collaborative pastoral plans need not look exactly the same in every Collaborative, fully respecting the principal of subsidiarity, and enabling parishes to collaborate with one another in making decisions regarding pastoral services and programs. The Collaborative pastoral plans will address practical and concrete issues, such as the composition of the pastoral team, strategies for evangelization, the financial viability of the parishes and their properties, the appropriate use of the properties of each parish, educational programs, liturgical schedules, housing for the priests, etc. Evangelizing parishes exercise what is called “radical hospitality.” They are always mindful of the lost. They pay careful attention to what they look like to people coming through the door for the first time. They make excellent and bold use of social media. They are committed to forming disciples, who in turn form other disciples. They have a strong focus on adult religious experiences, and adult faith formation, especially in small groups.

Is this a short-term program?

No, the strengthening our parishes as efficacious missionary communities is a long-term program to re-engaging the current generation of Catholics and provide a strong foundation for those who will follow us. After the Cardinal approves the Pastoral Plan, and after implementation begins, the pastor and pastoral team will conduct an annual assessment of adherence to the plan, with the assistance of the regional bishop/vicar and the vicar forane. The Collaboratives will review their pastoral plans every three years and resubmit them to the Archbishop of Boston for his confirmation. The Office of Pastoral Planning will assist the Archbishop in evaluating the effectiveness of the Archdiocesan pastoral plan, in recommending adjustments when necessary, and in assisting the Collaboratives to learn from the experiences of other Collaboratives in the Archdiocese.

Isn’t Evangelization going to be difficult?

The Archdiocese believes that the primary and most basic step toward achieving the goal of re-energizing pastoral leadership is a program of training for the pastors, pastoral teams and councils of each Parish Collaborative. This training will be focused on the theology and practice of the new evangelization and on leadership and management skills.

Given that St. Mary's and St. Richard’s are forming a Parish Collaborative, will religious education programs at our churches merge into one program?

The structure of the Religious Education Programs for St. Mary and St. Richard parishes will merge. Classes for both parishes for kids in grades 1-8 will be held at St. Richard's. Confirmation program classes will be held at St. Mary's. Registration for religious education has begun. Please see details on each parishes website.

What other programs might be done collectively?

Both St. Mary’s and St. Richard’s are active parishes, with many programs focused on outreach and the parishioners. Some of the programs will be better when they share a common goal / vision. Some examples might be: · Outreach programs, including the food pantry collection · Marriage prep · Hospitality events · Eucharistic Ministers tending the Nursing Homes / Hospitals / Homebound · Liturgy groups like the Marian Rosary / Sodality / Alpha / Cursillo ·

When the Collaborative starts, will mass times change?

Mass times in each Parish have traditionally been determined at the discretion of local Pastors. After the Collaborative starts, the Pastor will seek input from his Pastoral Team and Pastoral Council regarding Mass times. The Archdiocese expects that in many places, mass schedules in Collaboratives will need adjustment. In our two parishes, there are currently 8 weekend Masses, which is too much for one priest to say, as many overlap.

Once our Collaborative is formed, is there a “blueprint” of how we’re supposed to operate?

Yes. After our Collaborative is formed and is up and running, the new Pastor will appoint a team to write the Local Pastoral Plan for our Collaborative. The Plan will contain the details of how St. Richard’s and St. Mary’s will engage in the work of the New Evangelization (reaching out to Catholics who are not currently active in the Church and welcoming them back to the active practice of the faith). Our Local Pastoral Plan will contain the details of how we will run our programs, how we will promote vocations, and how we will engage in radical hospitality. The Local Pastoral Plan will also contain specific goals and how we will measure movement toward these goals. The Local Pastoral Plan will be different for each Collaborative and will be approved by the Archbishop.

Once our Collaborative with St. Richard's begins, will there be any training or guidance for the Pastor and other individuals on how to keep things running smoothly as a new Collaborative?

Yes. After a Collaborative Pastor is appointed, his training begins right away. Collaboratives will typically start in June of each year, and training will begin that fall for the combined Pastoral Council, the two Finance Councils, and the staff. Early in the following year (January or February), the Pastoral Teams will begin their training, which will be focused on the New Evangelization, Catholic Leadership, and the mechanics of Collaboration.

How will the Pastor and the new Pastoral Council exercise their leadership?

The Council is one of shared servant leadership for both parishes, not just their own special interest or function. The Council models the spirit of servant leadership when it is: · prayerful – the Council’s agenda provides sufficient time to reflect on the Gospel and on the call to be servant leaders. · faithful – as servant leaders, Councils are faithful in promoting Collaborative unity and the mission of the parishes and the larger Church. · representative – to truly be a servant leader, the Council needs to be a representative body rather than a body of representatives, representing all facets of the parishes and serving the parishes well. · pastoral – Councils strive to find the most effective resources and methods to serve the people of the Collaborative as they fulfill the mission of the Church in this time and place. · discerning – guided by a firm, faith-orientated value system, the Council works to determine how the mission of the Church is best accomplished in its own community, molding its actions and decisions in response to that mission. · prophetic – the Council needs courage and foresight to set the direction of the Collaborative community, challenging the parishes to grow in response to the Gospel. This prophetic work is not predicting the future but interpreting the path that the parish is to follow on its current faith journey in response to the Gospel and the needs of the Church. · empowering – the Council makes every effort to get to know parishioners’ hopes and talents. Councils serve the Collaborative by inviting parishioners to share their expertise, both to deepen the faith of the individual, and to strengthen the parish and the broader community. Connecting parishioners’ talents with community needs enables them to live out the mission of the Church in their daily lives.







International Catholic Stewardship Council                                              

Catholics Come Home    Catholic TV