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Ny Archdiocese Priest Assignments 2014

 On Priestly Assignments

 Next week, on August 4, we’ll celebrate the Feast of St. John Vianney, the pastor (curé) of Ars, the patron saint of parish priests.
That’s why I want to write a few words of love and gratitude to our priests in today’s column.
They’re always on my mind, but especially these days when many of them are moving to new assignments, or even retiring from an appointment.
Usually, it’s tough on a priest, and his people, to move. But, of course, we have to do it if we’re going to take care of our people.
The policy of the archdiocese is that a pastor is assigned to a six-year term, which can then be renewed once. The Priests’ Council of the archdiocese just recently strongly encouraged me to abide by that policy, advising me that, however difficult this can be for our priests and people, in the long run, it’s good for both. (Our policy states that a pastor who is completing his second six-year term, if over sixty-eight, can stay at his parish until retirement at seventy-five.)
Our associate pastors—a.k.a. parochial vicars—usually stay three years at a parish, and then are transferred, allowing them more experience before they become a pastor.
Our beloved priests can retire at seventy-five. Of course, one never “retires” from the sacrament of Holy Orders, as it is a life, not a job. And, as a matter of fact, many of them, health permitting, ask to stay on, a gracious request I’m usually thrilled to grant.
At eighty, though, our Priests’ Council advises me, it’s time to give up parish administrative burdens, and retire. Even then, some of our priests still, admirably, want to live in a parish and help in what they do best—celebrating the sacraments. Even those who retire at John Cardinal O’Connor Residence, or at a place of their own, are usually generous with their willingness to help at parishes.
In all of this, of course, “the buck stops here,” as my fellow Missourian, Harry Truman, claimed. It’s up to me to make the call on all our assignments for priests. And this is where I most appreciate the loyalty of our priests. As tough as it is to move, in my little over three years as your archbishop, rare has been the priest who has not sacrificially accepted an assignment, even if he’d rather remain where he is, or might be less than excited about his new mission. Our priests take the promise of obedience they made at their ordination with the utmost seriousness.
In my decisions about assignments, I depend heavily upon the Priests’ Personnel Board, clergy elected by their peers for this delicate task: Monsignor Edward Weber, Father Jack Arlotta, Father Thomas Devery, Father Robert Dillon, Father John Duffell, Father Jeffrey Galens, Father Robert Grippo, Father Arthur Mastrolia, and Father Anthony Sorgie; upon our vicars, who have special insight into the pastoral needs of their area; upon my auxiliary bishops, the chancellor, the vicar for priests—thanks, Monsignor Belford, for your hard work, and, welcome, Bishop Walsh, to this duty—and the director of priests’ personnel—thanks, Father Devery, and your “heir apparent,” Monsignor Ed Weber.
The Priests’ Council also wisely recommends that we develop methods of consulting the people of the parish more attentively. I like that idea. It’s good to hear from you about the needs of a given parish, and the kind of skills required in a new pastor.
Sometimes, when we prepare to move a man, we hear protests from the people. When we do, it’s almost always thoughtful and respectful. In a way, I’m kind of pleased when people don’t want to lose their parish priest! After all, he’s been a big part of their lives.
But, once again, just as with our patient priests, our people usually realize that they’ve been blessed to have their pastor as long as they did, and that now it’s virtuous for them to share him with another place.
Thanks, then, to our priests. Your obedience is downright inspirational. Overwhelmingly, you know it’s not about you, but about Jesus, His Church, His people.
Thanks to our people, for welcoming, embracing...and then letting go of your priests to share with another flock, acknowledging that Jesus exhorted His first priests to “go from village to village.”
Thanks for backing me up in delicate, sensitive decisions, and keep asking the Lord to give me wisdom!
St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, pray for us!

For immediate release: May 8, 2015

            The Archdiocese of New York today announced the last decisions reached by Cardinal Timothy Dolan for the final 16 proposed parish mergers that have been under consideration and deliberation by the parish clusters and the archdiocesan planning board over the last year-and-a-half.  These 16 proposals arose during the Making All Things New pastoral planning process, and in November the cardinal requested additional input and honest response of the clusters and the advisory committee before making any decisions about these parishes. After the clusters and advisory committee completed their work, the Priest Council of the archdiocese reviewed their responses and offered their own counsel to the cardinal for his consideration.

            As a result of this long process of consultation and review, the cardinal has decided that 31 parishes will merge, resulting in 14 new parishes (some mergers involve more than one parish).  In 11 of these 14 newly formed parishes, two church buildings will be used, with one church designated as the parish church and the other site used for Masses and sacraments.  There will be six churches where Masses and sacraments will no longer be celebrated on a regular basis. 

            There were two other proposals, one each on Staten Island and in Harlem, where, following this period of consultation and review, the cardinal has decided there will be no merger.

            Today’s announcement brings to a conclusion this phase of the Making All Things New pastoral planning process.  Cardinal Dolan said, “From the beginning, this process has been about helping the archdiocese to better accomplish the work of evangelization and outreach, preach the Gospel, perform works of charity, and educate people in the faith, all of which is at the heart of the Church’s mission.  For too long we have been in the business of maintaining buildings and structures that were established in the 19th and early 20th centuries to meet the needs of the people of that time, but which are not necessary to meet the needs of the Church and its people as it exists today.”    
            Because of Making All Things New, the archdiocese has also identified several potential areas for increased pastoral ministry and growth, including:

  • The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal undertaking ministry in the Newburgh area to work with the underprivileged, and immigrants, in that area;
  • The Claretian Fathers expanding their ministry in White Plains;
  • Franciscan Friars, headquartered on Todt Hill on Staten Island, possibly taking on new ministry;
  • A new church facility for Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini on Roosevelt Island that will allow all of their services to be centralized in one expanded location;
  • Identifying areas for housing to serve people with autism and other disabilities;
  • The need for an expanded church for Saint Mary Parish in Washingtonville;
  • Careful evaluation of the need to move Saint Michael Parish to the Hudson Yards in Manhattan;
  • An expanded apostolate and new facilities to minister to and with the Latino community in the archdiocese.

            The pastoral planning process began in 2010, and involved surveying the parishioners of every parish of the archdiocese; meeting with priests, deacons, and religious throughout the archdiocese; consulting with the archdiocesan pastoral council; and reviewing the observations offered by Cardinal Dolan from his own extensive parish visits since his 2009 appointment as archbishop.  The formal phase of Making All Things New was launched in September 2013, with every parish doing a self-examination, before joining with other nearby parishes to form a parish “cluster” to develop proposals for the future of the Catholic church in that area.  These proposals were then reviewed by the 40 person advisory committee comprised of clergy, religious men and women, and the faithful from across the archdiocese, and, finally, by the priest council and other close advisors and key staff.

            Implementation of the decisions, both those announced today and those announced six months ago on November 2, 2014, are scheduled for August 1, 2015.  Transition teams have been working throughout the archdiocese to assist the parishes with the practical steps that must be taken for the implementation, as well as with the process of coming together with another parish to form a new parish family; particular attention is being given to those parish mergers in which one of the church buildings will not be used on a regular basis for Mass and sacraments.

            The merger of Saint Luke parish with Saint Jerome parish in the Bronx, announced in November, has been reconsidered.  As Cardinal Dolan said at that time, if there were substantial new information or a change of circumstances that had not been foreseen, then a decision could be looked at again.  In the case of Saint Luke, it will now become the parish home for approximately 700-800 Ghanaian Catholics who were looking to join an established parish.  With this influx of new parishioners, Saint Luke will be able to remain a vibrant, stable parish.

            Also promulgated today was the decree concerning the merger of Saint Charles Borromeo parish and All Saints parish in Harlem. This decision was made back in November, but the cardinal held the decision in abeyance while the other proposal for Harlem was considered by the cluster and the archdiocesan planning board.  Now that this process is concluded, the decree is being issued.

            Finally, the archdiocese announced in November that the religious order, the Salesians of Don Bosco,  had agreed to undertake pastoral ministry in all of Port Chester, and that they would develop a proposal for configuring and merging the four parishes that currently serve that community.  They have developed such a proposal that will be presented to Cardinal Dolan, who will review the plan and discuss it with the priest council for their advice and guidance at the end of May. Because this remains a proposal, and no decision has yet been made, no details can be announced today.


Parish List 1 - Masses and Sacraments celebrated at both churches

Parish List 2 - Masses and Sacraments to be celebrated at the designated parish church; the other church may be used on special occasions. 

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