Preparing for the coming changes in the diocesan Church


PROVIDENCE — To address ways the Church will need to adapt in the coming years to a decline in the men pursuing religious vocations coupled with a marked increase in the number of priests reaching retirement age, while facing a downturn in the number of faithful filling the pews each week, the diocese has commissioned a national speaker to address ways parishes will need to collaborate to ensure their future survival.

“Over the next eight years there are 20 projected ordinations to the priesthood in our diocese, but there are over 60 priests who will be eligible to retire. It's important that we begin to think differently about the future,” said Father Michael Najim, director of Spiritual Formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary.

“Priests and laity need to work together to formulate a vision that inspires collaboration between parishes.

Mark Mogilka, director of Stewardship and Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., will conduct two presentations in the diocese next week. The first will be offered to all laity in the diocese, and will be held on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the lower hall of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. The second will be for priests of the diocese, and will take place on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the diocese’s Bishop McVinney Auditorium.

The theme of Mogilka’s presentation will be “Pastoral Planning Today: It’s Challenges and its Opportunities,” and will help prepare people to begin thinking about the future of the Church in a different way, particularly when it comes to parishes working more collaboratively together.

“There’s a lot of information out there,” Mogilka said in a telephone interview of the statistics that parishioners in the diocese have already been given that can help guide them as the diocese continues to reorganize to help meet the challenges ahead, “but there seems to be some lethargy,” in using this information to develop concrete plans of action.

Mogilka said that in the 1990s, the Diocese of Green Bay had 215 parishes, while today 157 of those remain.

It is imperative for individuals to get involved in helping to shape what is inevitably coming down the road for many parishes in the not-too-distant future, he said.

“I am excited about Mr. Mogilka's presentation because he has extensive national experience in helping dioceses to embark upon the path of parish collaboration,” said Father Najim. “Rather than getting discouraged about the future, we need to embrace it with enthusiasm and hope. I'm hoping that his presentation will generate excitement among the priests and laity.”

The presentation for the laity is free and open to the public. It will be held in the parish hall of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. If interested in attending, contact Father Michael Najim at 331-1316 or by e-mail at