Guest Blogger – Nicole Tobin
I am thankful to Father David for lending me his Pastor’s Corner so that I can share my “Random Thoughts” with you about what is happening with the Fourth Diocesan Synod. Although the Synod officially closed at a joyous Mass on September 19, 2015 at Webster Bank Arena with 8,000 Catholics present, the outcomes of the Synod are just unfolding. The Bishop is so committed to the development of multiple initiatives that he authorized the creation of several new diocesan positions to lead them. At the April 16, 2016 Second Post-Synod General Session, delegates heard from three who were hired since the synod concluded.
Rose Talbot-Babey joined the diocese from Florida as Coordinator of Elementary Foundation. She continues to conduct site visits to learn about local faith formation programs and noted there is much wonderful work underway throughout the diocese, but it is not consistent or coordinated. Rose already identified the following priorities: establishment of faith formation and sacramental policies, procedures, and standards; creation of a diocesan information directory for use by Directors of Religious Education; re-introduction of the faith formation board; development of regional training for catechists who then can provide training in their parishes; and creation of a special needs ministry.
Kimberly Quatela has joined the diocese as the Coordinator of Family Formation. Her first priority was revamping the marriage preparation process for the 500 marriages that take place throughout the diocese annually. Following a model from the Diocese from Richmond entitled “Unveiled,” the event is now a one day marriage conference taught by happily long-married couples, using videos and discussions, including meals, Mass and Confession. Kim is also working on the diocesan Women’s Conference scheduled for November 12, 2016 and promised the Men’s Conference will take place in the Spring of 2017. Among her vast responsibilities are the development of a ministry to the divorced and separated, parenting resources, natural family planning and fertility awareness, and RCIA formation and resources.
Patrick Donovan joined the diocese from Delaware as the Executive Director of the new Diocesan Leadership Institute. He spent time examining 25 diocesan practices and envisions an institute rooted in hospitality that recognizes local experiences and provides manageable and relevant content to all who want to learn more about the faith and about how to serve. He foresees content being delivered in person and on-line, to individuals and to groups and more than one language. Patrick promises we will each have opportunities to discern our gifts and call to ministry and then learn how to serve using the gifts and call.
Patrick Turner, who has been with the diocese since the synod planning first began, is now the Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning. He summarized the pastoral planning process, which you have heard about from Father David. Each parish is creating a plan, taking into account its financial and sacramental statistics. Parishes have been asked to identify at least three goals, two of which must be aligned to synod priorities and one of which to address either finances, building/facilities or community life. St. Jerome’s is in good hands: our plan is in development through the efforts of Father David, Father Rojin, Missy Ely, Dan Loch, Kathy Coyne and Joe O’Callaghan, Jr.
I encourage you to keep up on the outcomes of the synod and the pastoral planning process by reading The Fairfield County Catholic and periodically visiting
. Synod delegates will meet twice more in November 2016 and April 2017. I look forward to updating you again then.
Sincerely, Nicole Tobin