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Deacons in “a new model of parish management” in St. Louis

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/31/15

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This won’t be a surprise in some places, and it echoes what is happening now in Pittsburgh. But it’s interesting to realize that, in certain dioceses, this sort of thing is still radical and new. From the St. Louis Review:

The clergy appointments announced in the paper this week include one that might sound unusual: “Deacon John Schiffer, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of St. Peter Parish in St. Charles, is released from that assignment, and appointed as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in St. Charles …” Wait, parish life coordinator? What’s that? For the first time — formally anyway — Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has appointed a permanent deacon to this new role of leadership in the archdiocese. A parish life coordinator “has the responsibility of administering and overseeing the temporalities of a designated parish, as well as participating in and giving pastoral direction to the parish,” according to the archdiocese’s definition of the role. In addition to providing guidance and direction, Deacon Schiffer also will “provide guidance and direction, but also to work with and for the dedicated members of the designated parish.” A parish life coordinator is to incorporate a team approach. Deacon Schiffer will work with lay staff and other clergy, including Father Mark Whitman, a senior associate pastor who will split his time between two parishes, and two permanent deacons and another priest in residence already serving at St. Robert Bellarmine. Deacon Schiffer also will collaborate with Msgr. Ted Wojcicki, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie. Msgr. Wojcicki, dean of the St. Charles Deanery, has been named pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine, fulfilling a Canon Law that states a priest must be pastor of a church. But Msgr. Wojcicki won’t reside at St. Robert. It’s a new model of parish management that could be applied in more parishes, especially as the number of priests in the archdiocese declines, said Father John O’Brien, director of the archdiocesan Office of Continuing Education and Formation of Priests. Father O’Brien said this underscores the importance of the planning and viability study that began in parishes earlier this year. In fact, St. Robert Bellarmine sent 40 people to training sessions on how to conduct the process in parishes.

Read on. 

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