Following a two-page letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s pressing financial issues, the diocese has announced the Parish Pastoral Planning Initiative and 44 Pastoral Planning Areas.
PPAs will be made up of several parishes, and half of the groups will now begin the task of staring their Parish Pastoral Plans. The idea is for the parishes within a PPA to evaluate their goals and determine if the resources needed to meet them exist.
Not yet identified, the PPAs will be split in half. Work on the first 22 groups will take about three years, as will work with the other 22 PPAs, according to the statement from the diocese.
“Statistics from the past two decades show that numerous factors including demographic shifts, a decline in weekly Mass attendance, a high density of parishes in a relatively small geographic area, the availability of clergy, serious financial challenges and underutilized parish facilities have seriously impacted the quality of parish life,” reads the announcement. A Fall 2010 announcement from the diocese addressed the need to examine area parishes.
Possible outcomes include parish mergers and the development of parish sustainability plans.