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Wednesday, August 04, 2010



The pastoral plan is pure gold but it evokes questions.

In the case of St. John Vianney, he remained in his parish for his entire priesthood. And his success in the parish was accomplished over a long period of time.

In today's environment, many bishops tend to move their priests around every so many years. So it seems that to achieve maximum effect using a pastoral approach such as Vianney's would require that the bishop be the source and driver of the pastoral plan to begin with, so that most or all of the priests of his diocese would be on the same page and if transferred, would be able to pick up in a parish where the previous priest left off.

I'm sure there are good reasons for the moving of priests, considering that talents and personalities vary among them, and it is the bishop's responsibility to apply his available priests to their best effect in the diocese as he sees it.

That, however, as I understand what Father John Cihak has described, is perhaps the simple beauty and effectiveness of St. John Vianney's pastoral approach. It involves personality to some extent but it really does transcend the individual because it is based on the universal call to holiness of every Christian and it flows out from that as the priest lives it and teaches it.

And, insofar as we the laity know the game plan, so to speak, it makes it much easier to know how to help Father carry on his parish mission.

As it stands, an individual priest can reach a number of people in his parish following this plan, but if he is moved too soon, it seems that his work would be left to stagnate if the next priest is reading another play book. The only one who can rectify this is the bishop.

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