Cluster system approaches 1st anniversary
By Kaelanne Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicar General Msgr Christian Pereira revealed that data from the parish census indicates that the Archdiocese has a lot of pastoral and hospitality work to do in all parishes.
Pereira referred to the statistics which highlighted that average Sunday Mass attendance from all six vicariates was 41,240 versus the total monthly attendance of 164,985 (see table below).
At the beginning of Lent, Archbishop Joseph Harris issued a pastoral letter entitled Return to Hospitality. This letter was a follow up to the decision taken last September to reach out in care to all Catholics and those beyond the churches by establishing the cluster arrangement.
The census in Lent, Msgr Pereira said, was an attempt to assess the reality of the local Church in terms of clarifying the data available. He added that every year each parish is required to submit a full report on all available parish statistics. This is submitted to the Office of the Chancellor to enable the Archbishop to complete his annual report to Rome.
Msgr Pereira explained that “the specific focus of the census was to determine the number of Catholics who attend Mass every weekend so that clergy can understand the best way to serve the people of God”.
All parishes were circulated and invited to participate in this census. The figures were to be submitted to the Chancery’s Office by the Monday of Easter week.
“This deadline (April 17) allowed for every parish and its communities enough time to process the information and to both send a copy of the information to the Chancery and to use the information for the pastoral planning within the cluster and the vicariate,” he said.
Responding to questions via email, Msgr Pereira addressed concerns about the increasing shortage of clergy and the difficulty in meeting the needs of all the faithful (within and beyond the Church).
“There is the challenge of restructuring our pastoral [ministry] in such a way that will allow the fewer priests to be more available for the actual care of God’s people. We (clergy) need to trust the lay faithful and to empower the very many creative people in all our parishes (and clusters) to take greater responsibility for the administration of the parish communities,” he said.
On the question of the way forward, Msgr Pereira said there are many options open to the Archdiocese. “Now we are in a ‘transition’ period in many ways. We are all trying to support the present Archbishop as he prepares to welcome his successor. His own commitment to ensuring that the Archdiocese is in as secure a position as possible continues to characterise his various efforts as he seeks to ensure that the commitment to the Cluster vision continues to develop.”
Msgr Pereira reminded the faithful that in a few weeks’ time, the Archdiocese will mark the first anniversary of the official move to clusters in September. He revealed the committee appointed by the Archbishop to facilitate this transition is still grappling with the details of assisting vicars, moderators and parish priests to find a working relationship that “is life-giving both to the people we are called to serve and to the very persons who serve”.
He said, “There is an effort to ensure that the level of collaboration between the Chancellor’s Office, the Parish Help Desk and the Cluster Committee evolve in such a way to better serve the greater good of the Archdiocese.”
Msgr Pereira was cognisant that “some clusters are working very well” (maybe because of the actual configuration combined with the type of leaders), some struggling to find a working relationship among themselves, and other clusters are not yet engaged nor have yet embraced the vision. “We are all trying to do what is best. But our history and our deep-seated preferences are yet to be positively managed.”
He added, “There is an effort to offer all parishes a statistical form to guide the pastors, moderators and vicars to develop better planning to allow for a maximising of the human potential of priests and committed parish leaders.”
VICARIATE MASS ATTENDANCE
Northern 13,489 53,962
Suburban 8,233 32,934
Southern 7,525 30,108
Eastern 7,007 28,033
Central 4,223 16,895
Tobago 763 3,053
TOTAL 41,240 164,985