Pastoral Planning, Collaboration and Change in Rural Local Catholic Parishes: A Case Study
Due to a shortage of priest, the Catholic Church faces the prospect of accelerated parish closures, consolidations and other changes in current local hierarchies that will alter the manner in which the faith is promoted and practiced. This paper documents the Pastoral Planning Process in two rural parishes, operated separately for over 130 years in close proximity to each other. The goal was a combined entity, serving each community while maintaining faith formation and service. This case study presents efforts of the two communities to achieve a satisfactory synergy through extensive planning, combined discussions of a Pastoral Planning committee and polling of respective constituencies through public meetings and surveys. The lens for analysis contrasts the management literature on mergers and acquisitions and the sociological research on acculturation following the suggestions of Van de Ven (2007).