Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
May the Peace of Christ be with you!
On January 7, 2012 we will mark the 125th anniversary of the establishment of our Diocese by His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII. This milestone is the occasion for all of us to give thanks to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon the Church in southern Illinois during these years. By God’s grace our parishes have nurtured the faith of hundreds of thousands during these many years. As we give thanks for the past we must plan for the future, taking into account the realities of the present. A number of factors indicate that we need to consolidate some of our parishes if we hope to have strong and vital Catholic communities in the years to come.
With this letter I am announcing the beginning of a Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring in our Diocese.
I know how much you love the Church and your parish. I am confident that this love will sustain and guide all of us as we undertake this important process. As members of the Catholic Church, we live out our faith and bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our parish communities, which are part of the larger community of our Local Church, the Diocese of Belleville. Our parishes do not stand alone. Ultimately, the strengths and weaknesses of one parish have an impact on the strengths and weaknesses of all of our parishes. ...
A SUMMARY OF THE PASTORAL PLAN
The Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring for the Diocese of Belleville is an initiative of the Diocese of Belleville under the leadership of Bishop Edward K. Braxton to renew and strengthen the Catholic communities of faith in southern Illinois. It is being undertaken as the Catholic People of God approach January 7, 2012 with gratitude and thanksgiving. This date commemorates the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese by Pope Leo XIII on January 7, 1887. The goal of the plan is to examine prayerfully our parish communities and our Catholic elementary schools, to build upon the strengths of these communities while making careful, prudent, and sometimes difficult decisions about the long- term futures of these communities. This discernment will give consideration to the size of the Catholic community in the present and its projected size in the future. The age and health of our priests, deacons, religious, parish life coordinators and others in pastoral service are also important factors in this discernment process.
The need to develop a Pastoral Plan has been discussed by pastors and parishioners for many years. Now is the time to formalize that discussion and move toward appropriate decisions and actions for the good of all. The basic structure of the Pastoral Plan has been developed in consultation with the Presbyteral Council; the College of Consultors; the Bishop’s Cabinet; the Directors of the departments of the Diocese; the priests, deacons, religious, and parish life coordinators who participate in the Deanery meetings; the Diocesan Pastoral Council and others.