Pastoral Planning

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18

I’m reminded of the scene from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat. Alice asks the Cat for directions: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The Cat replies: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” When Alice says she doesn’t really know where she wants to go, the Cat famously replies, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

The priests of our Diocese are collaborating with Bishop Cantú to develop a Pastoral Plan that will lay out a vision for our Church over the next several years. I want you to be informed of the work we are doing, so when the time comes for our parish to begin the implementation process, we will be ready.

The Church of today is not the same as it was 100, 50, or even 20 years ago; yet we are still functioning within the same structures and modes of evangelization. Although we treasure our Catholic tradition, we must recognize that the Catholic population has shifted. Society has changed over the past several decades. Our Catholic institutions are no longer as effective or sustainable as they once were.

We need to ask ourselves what our parishes, ministries, and institutions need to look like to effectively share the faith in a way that engages new disciples of Christ and is sustainable for generations to come. This pastoral planning process allows us to move our ministries forward to meet people where they are while remaining constant in mission and rooted in faith.

Our Diocese needs a Spirit-filled renewal, especially in the aftermath of a historic pandemic. The pandemic has only accentuated and exacerbated the sacramental, pastoral, catechetical, and financial challenges seen in the dioceses across the country before the pandemic.

We need to address the challenges facing the Catholic Church today. In every age and in every place, the Church must read and address the signs of the times. The total percentage of the U.S. population identifying with a particular religion and observing religious practices continues to decline. Religious adherence is highest among baby boomers and decreases with each subsequent generation. Additionally, young adults are postponing marriage and having fewer children when they do marry.

This trend is consistent in the Diocese of San José and has contributed to a steady decline in Mass attendance, sacraments, Catholic school enrollment, parish religious education enrollment. Stewardship support of our parishes and schools has also steadily declined in the Diocese of San José, consistent with the trend across the country.

The 50th Jubilee of the Diocese of San José in 2031 joyfully coincides with the 500th anniversary of Mary’s appearance and message to St. Juan Diego, which set in motion an unimaginable, dynamic evangelization of the Americas where previously the response to the Gospel message had been somewhat limited. Through her presence, message, and intercession, the Gospel message spread deeply and broadly. Thus, Bishop Cantú convened a diocesan synod to listen and discern with the faithful how we can spiritually renew our diocese in preparation for our 50th jubilee.

Fr. Matt