Recent conversations and personal experience remind me of how much and how swiftly the pace and patterns of our lives change after Labor Day. Think of parents who send their children back to school. Think of the administrators, teachers and support staff who gear up to receive the children. You might think in a particular way of parents whose children are all now up and out, leaving behind new empty nesters.
The fact is that we all need to shift gears just a bit at this time of year. It’s another reminder of the constant element of change, large and small, that is in every life. At such moments we can see some truth in the adage, "to live is to change."
As we began the 2011-12 Presbyteral Council year, we all had reason to reflect once again on the constancy of change in life — this time in the number of members on the council, and in the frequency of our meetings. I won’t go into a long story about the "whys and wherefores" of the change. Let me just say that the decision was thoughtfully and carefully made, and it was based on changing circumstances. Two of the more significant factors influencing the number of members were the reorganization of the regions in our diocese from 11 to seven. Since we elect one delegate to the Presbyteral Council from each region, that change reduces the number by four. A second factor is the fact that we have a much smaller number of priests than we had 30 years ago but we never changed the number on the body that represents them.
The decision about the frequency of meetings — which are now bimonthly rather than monthly — also was guided by two major factors. Our reduced numbers have in many cases expanded the workload of our priests. We all know there must be a limit to that, and have tried to be mindful of ways in which to ease those burdens. A reduction in the number of council meetings might be one step toward doing that.
We also are aware that there may be ways to carry on some of the business of the council by using our electronic capacity more fully and effectively. While face-to-face live discussions are necessary for a vibrant council, we may find ways to do some of our more routine business through the use of technology.
I was very pleased with the Sept. 6 meeting. My initial impression from the experience is that the smaller number of members may allow for more in-depth discussions of the issues before us.
We will monitor carefully the work and flow of the year so that we can learn from the experience and make any adjustments that we think will improve our performance. The contribution of the Presbyteral Council is so important to the life of our diocese that we need to keep it operating at its usual high level.
Our newly elected officers for 2011-12, I know, will do an excellent job in leading us through the first year of this new format. They are Chairman Paul Tomasso; Vice Chairman Father Kevin McKenna; Secretary Father Rob Bourcy; and At-Large Member Father Scott Kubinski. I ask you please to pray for our Presbyteral Council and its officers as we begin this new venture. And, I promise you my prayers that your post-Labor Day adjustments will be smooth and easy.
Peace to all.