Catholic News Service
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki is preparing the archdiocese for 2020, particularly as to how the spiritual needs of the Catholic community will best be served.
"Parishes and Pastoral Leadership 2020," approved and issued by Archbishop Listecki Aug. 8, notes "three principal factors" that will have an impact on parishes during the next decade:
• From 2010 to 2020, the number of priest retirements will exceed ordinations, resulting in a projected 40 percent reduction in the number of priests serving in parish ministry.
• The costs of operating parishes and funding ministries are escalating rapidly and parishes can gain economies of scale by collaborating with other parishes.
• The one mission of the church, shared by all parishes, can be carried out more effectively by combining efforts and sharing resources.
There are 203 parishes in the archdiocese. By 2020, there will be 100 parishes and clusters.
"Of these, 28 are free-standing parishes and the remaining parishes will create 72 clusters," the plan states. "The 72 clusters will be formed by bringing together approximately 175 parishes and establishing collaborative staffing, structures and ministries."
In an Aug. 3 interview with the Catholic Herald, the publication serving the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin, the archbishop said the plan "depends on us embracing our Catholicity."
"The aspect of Catholicity is the true spirit that guides us. It was that Catholicity and that commitment that produced so many priests that we were able to have individual priests in a parish," he said. "Now, maybe what we need to do is regroup, grab our Catholicity so it helps us to inspire those individuals to serve in various communities and that we might have more ordained personnel to serve in the future."
In a letter that accompanied the plan, the archbishop noted the need for collaboration.
"Now that a long-term strategy has been determined for the archdiocese, it is extremely important for each parish and cluster to become actively involved in planning for the future," he wrote. "Each pastor or parish director in consultation with the parish pastoral council is charged with the responsibility for these planning efforts. The full implementation of the plan will require the collaborative efforts of everyone in the archdiocese."
Significant to Catholic life in 2020 is that there will be 100 archdiocesan priests "available for full-time parish ministry," according to the plan. It also assumes that there will be fewer religious order priests but that they will serve approximately 20 percent of the parishes in the archdiocese -- the same percentage they currently serve.