Faith in Our Future
Faith in Our Future is a planning process to strengthen parishes and diocesan ministries. Bishop David O’Connell describes it as “an effort to call upon the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Trenton to reflect upon the ways that we experience, live and express our Catholic faith together as the circumstances of the past and present give way to the new and changing realities that we face as a local Church” without forgetting the basis of our faith. “There is ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all (Ephesians 4: 5-6)’ and that fundamental and foundational source of our unity cannot be lost or compromised or sacrificed as we adapt to changing times and circumstances.
Faith in Our Future has the following goals:
- Strengthen and enliven the parishes of the Diocese as well as Diocesan-sponsored organizations and ministries.
- Explore new models of leadership in parishes and ministries in institutional settings (schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, etc.) in order to address the challenges presented by the anticipated retirement of a large number of clergy and religious over the next ten years.
- Improve our stewardship of personnel, finances, and facilities and other parish and Diocesan resources.
- Establish collaborative relationships among the parishes and ministries of the diocese that will build upon the gospel to re/evangelize the local church, especially those who live on the fringes of the church, as well as those who do not yet know Christ.
- Provide for pastoral ministry to Hispanic Catholics, the fastest growing segment of our Diocesan population, within our parishes and organizations.
At first, each parish will work on its own, under the leadership of the parish core team, to conduct an evaluation of the parish and to complete other tasks assigned. The parish core team will engage parishioners in conversations about planning for the future.
After a few months, parishes will align in groups of three to five neighboring parishes called a “cohort.” The parish core teams within a cohort will discuss their strengths and struggles, and share “best thinking” about the future. Together, the cohort of parishes will make suggestions for the future that propose particular ways the parishes in a given area could work together and respond to each of the five goals of the Faith in Our Future process.
Our Parish's Cohort
- Korean Martyrs Parish, Trenton
- St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville
- St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown
- St. David the King Parish, West Windsor
- St. Paul Parish, Princeton
Representatives from the campus ministries of Princeton University and Rider University will join our conversations.
Bishop O'Connell's Decision for our Cohort
- Collaborative model for all four parishes in the cohort
- St. Paul Parish designated as a Center for Hispanic Ministry
So what are the practical implications as we move from the planning phase to the implementation phase? First, our parish will be appointing fours members of our parish to an implementation committee: one from the parish pastoral council, one from the school board, one from our young adult community and one from our Hispanic community. Our parish’s implementation team will be meeting with the implementation teams from the other parishes in our cohort following an orientation session this March. It will be the goal of this cohort gathering to examine areas where we may be able to collaborate in our ministry and how this collaboration will take place. The diocese has defined collaboration as parishes working together with programs, staffing and resources to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of the people of the diocese for the sake of evangelization. The goal of collaboration is to focus neighboring parishes on common goals, reducing competition and increasing the impact we can have together on our local area. This may result in shared ministry for marriage preparation, youth ministry or hospital ministry for examples. It will be up to the cohort to decide what this collaboration will look like.
Regarding our parish’s designation as a Center for Hispanic Ministry, means continuing to develop an effective ministerial outreach and liturgical celebrations for our Spanish speaking sisters and brothers in our Princeton area. For St. Paul, it means to further the goals of these centers specifically: a priest in residence who speaks the native language of the culture group; bilingual staffing; faith formation and leadership formation in the native language. Our aim is to continue to empower the people of the various cultural groups to feel “at home” in multicultural parish communities where Catholics practice and share their faith.