We are to examine the pastoral and temporal data of the parishes and consider how we are providing ministry to both Catholics and to the wider Vineland community. We will also be looking at the budgeting for our parishes during this process. In the end, the overall goal of this process is to create a plan to work together for a strong and lasting Catholic presence throughout all of Vineland, and to then present that plan to Bishop Sullivan for his consideration. Each of our parish councils has already met with the Diocesan Pastoral Planning and Finance Office staff for a review of the process and our parish’s current condition. We reviewed the steps of the process which start with taking some time to study the ministries which each parish offers and to explore ways which can enable them to reach more people. We also looked at the numbers of people in our parishes that are receiving the sacraments and attending Mass, and finally, we looked at parish finances. (Some of that information is included on a separate sheet in this bulletin for you to see information about your own parish.) After the initial meetings, each pastor chose 3 people from his own parish and finance councils to serve in a smaller planning group which is now working with Diocesan staff to develop the overall plan. The Diocesan staff members are encouraged by the collaborative work that we have already begun with our Faith Formation programs and they would like to see us build on that. We are now beginning to discuss our ministries, and how all of our parish communities can work together in what we do for Catholics and for the entire Vineland community. We have decided to call ourselves the Vineland Catholic Collaborative (VCC) and we strongly believe that by working together and sharing resources, we will then be able to provide better ministries while at the same time controlling our parish expenditures and debts. This year, for example, we are pooling our resources and hiring one director of Lifelong Faith Formation for all of Vineland. Thus, we can provide more options for families to receive religious education for their children, ways for families to participate in faith formation activities, and provide more youth ministry options for young people in Vineland. Each parish will provide a piece of a comprehensive program available to all families throughout the city. Developing a plan in this way is not an easy task. This is the first step that many of the Catholic parishes in Vineland are taking as well as working together to serve the People of God. What we are now beginning here in Vineland is truly ground-breaking within the Diocese of Camden. We will not be hasty or rush this process, but rather, at this time, we are carefully working to create plans that will take some time to implement. The actual implementation will begin later this year and continue over the next few years. As the months move on, and so does our planning, we will put information into the bulletins and speak at Mass to keep you updated. If you have questions as we move along in this process, please ask us directly so that we can address your concerns. Please keep all of us in your prayers, especially throughout the coming months as we work to effectively plan our future.
Msgr. John Burton, Fr. Joel Arciga Camarillo, Fr. Robert Sinatra