Friday, April 20, 2007


Citing lack of priests, Fresno bishop advances plan for “parish life coordinators”

“This is already happening in many of our dioceses, even here in California, and it is coming soon to our diocese,” said Fresno Bishop John Steinbock in a message to the faithful aired on KNXT-TV. “In our nation there are seven dioceses that half of their parishes have no resident priest.”

In the March message, Steinbock told his flock about upcoming changes in their sheepfold. Soon, he said, many of them would have no shepherds to guide them. Only fellow sheep.

Steinbock, along with 127 priests and 42 permanent deacons, met at a four-day gathering of the Clergy for Continuing Formation held at the Visalia Convention Center in January, where they began “a strategic planning process to eventually form a five-year plan for pastoral ministry.”

Steinbock said the meeting “looked at where we are and where we hope to be in five years from now, and how we can work towards that vision. The priests and deacons came up with four main areas to place our emphasis in these next five years: Catechesis, Lay Ministry, Vocations and Youth Ministry.” The meeting set up five committees, which will work out plans to realize these emphases. The committees will submit their plans to the priests’ council in five years for review, and ultimately to Steinbock for final approval.

“Two of the most exciting committees will be the committee for setting up the Lay Ministry Institute to give certification for all our ministries and to give degrees for theology and scripture and the committee for setting up a program for Parish Life Coordinators,” said Steinbock. “Sad to say we are coming to a point in our Diocese when we will not have sufficient priests to staff all our parishes and we will have to have Permanent Deacons, Religious, or Lay persons trained to lead a parish community.”

The April 8 Central California Catholic Life, the diocesan newspaper, reported that the priests’ convocation spoke of the need “to refine the New Wine Program” for lay leaders and a Lay Formation Institute to train parish life coordinators. In 2005, Bishop Robert Finn, the then-recently appointed bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, suspended the New Wine program, under diocesan direction since 1994, purportedly because it was not cost effective. The three-year program, whose materials have been published by Paulist Press, provides a foundation in theology and pastoral skills.

Read the rest...

With all due respect, this Catholic has no plans to follow a fellow sheep. Either we have priests, or we have no way to practice the faith. A lay stand-in does not fill the requirement, no matter how many New Wine programs he has graduated from. I am NOT interested in any new wine! When the priests are gone, the faith, for all practical purposes is gone with them, and we are left with nothing but the burnt-out empty shell.

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