On 22 May 2021, Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli announced that the Melbourne Archdiocese would be undergoing a radical and wholesale restructure – converting 209 parishes into 50 to 60 Missions. The Archbishop has called this restructure “Take the Way of the Gospel”. The Archbishop’s hope is that the restructure will bring vitality back to our parishes.
“Take the Way of the Gospel” aims to:
- Form current parishes into “families of communities” called “Missions”.
- Base “Missions” on demographic and financial statistics to achieve “effective use of material and ministerial resources”.
- Ask parishes to identify potential Missions over the next 12-18 months, before moving towards a staged establishment of Missions over the next three to five years.
We encourage you to visit the Archdiocesan Website to learn more about the proposal:
Melbourne Faithful are of one mind with our Archbishop in wanting the revitalisation of our parishes. We all long for a renewal in our parishes and the Archdiocese itself.
We long for a renewal in our parishes and the Archdiocese itself, and we have been asked, and are ready, to enter into a time of prayer, discernment and conversation to allow the Spirit of God to direct us. But we reject all attempts to pre-empt the Holy Spirit’s guidance with an already predetermined plan.
- The COVID-19 restrictions have thrown the Church into a great crisis. We cannot fully know the full effect of the pandemic on our parishes. We cannot even meet in person to discuss these proposals.
- The whole Catholic Church in Australia is in the process of praying, discerning, and consulting in the Plenary Council. We must not pre-empt the outcomes of these deliberations.
The proposed restructure will change the nature of our local church forever.
Many Melbourne Faithful are concerned about the possible outcomes of this restructure.
This is how the restructure may affect Catholics in Melbourne, including you and your family:
- Your parish may no longer have a parish priest. Most Missions will have the leadership of up to 2 priests – one will be called a “Moderator”– and they will together have responsibility for up to 5-6 parishes.
- Your parish may no longer have a resident priest. The priests of each Mission will likely live together and drive to each parish to administer the sacraments.
- Mass times may be severely impacted.
- Your local parish identity will diminish. It is likely there will be no individual parish newsletter, and no parish pastoral associate. Many Presbyteries will be empty.
It will also have a particular impact on priests in Melbourne because:
- they will no longer have a parish ‘family’ to speak of, as they will be spread across several parishes ministering to thousands of faithful; and
- their role as ‘father’ will be diminished, as they will be physically separated from the parishes they serve.
Pope Francis has noted how important it is for priests to be more than administrators and sacrament dispensers. He said:
to take on the ‘smell of the sheep’ means to be out amongst the flock entrusted to the priest, personally close to them,” …. “It means not simply being available in the office or celebrating the sacraments – as central and primary to the priesthood as that is – but being engaged in the lives of parishioners and others in the community.
Melbourne Faithful is providing an opportunity for those who are concerned about the proposed restructure and the lack of consultation so far to have their voices heard by Archbishop Comensoli and those advising him.