Strategy Eases Shift from Old Pastor to New

By McClory, Robert | National Catholic Reporter, July 17, 1998 | Go to article overview

Strategy Eases Shift from Old Pastor to New


McClory, Robert, National Catholic Reporter


CHICAGO -- In his 25 years as director of the Parish Evaluation Project, Jesuit Fr. Thomas Sweetser and his staff have assisted 158 parishes in analyzing their operations,determining what works and what doesn't, and making appropriate changes.

In most cases, says Sweetser, now 59, the results have been highly beneficial, but in some situations "we'd check back six months later and find the perish operation was in a state of chaos." The reason: the departure of one pastor and the arrival of a new one.

So, early next year, Sweetser and his associates will formally introduce a radically new system to smooth the frequently traumatic transition from outgoing to incoming pastor. The system, to be pioneered in the Fort Worth, Texas, diocese, stretches the transition time to almost 11 months and requires the good will and cooperation of the bishop, the personnel board, all the pastors, all the staffs and leadership in parishes where a pastoral change has been scheduled.

The details are spelled out in a new book by Sweetser and Benedictine Sr. Mary Benet McKinney, Changing Pastors: a Resource for Pastoral Transition. The system has been quietly piloted in three dioceses, says Sweetser, with pastors expressing a high level of satisfaction and parishioners feeling a heightened sense of involvement.

Such a heavy concentration on pastoring might appear inappropriate in the Vatican II church with its emphasis on lay leadership and collaborative ministry. Not so say Sweetser and McKinney in their book. Parishes still "undergo profound shifts with the change of pastors."

In the traditional abrupt and often traumatic transition arrangement, they say? a pastor arrives at his new parish without any sustained opportunity to let go of his former parish. And he is greeted by a congregation that has had little time to adjust to their loss. Even pleasant, desirable transitions, psychologists note, have a "pit stage," involving feelings of depression, loss and ambiguity.

Hence, Sweetser and McKinney's rationale for a long, diocesan-wide transition procedure that can produce smoother relationships and quicker adjustments on all sides. In a participating diocese, all outgoing pastors and all those about to become pastors are identified at one time, for example, in January. In each affected parish, a 7-to 12-member transition team is formed.

Separate workshops are held immediately for outgoing pastors, transition teams and staffs. For the next three months the transition teams, aided by staffs, gather information about their parishes.

The goal is to provide time for reflection and adjustment for everybody concerned. This period -- when the old pastor is not yet gone and the new one hasn't arrived -- is an ideal time, says Sweetser, for a parish to discover "what it wants to retain, what it wants to let go of, what it wants that's new, what qualities it: seeks in a new leader and what it has to offer the pastor."

Workshops for incoming pastors are held in April, so they can sort through the information provided by the transition teams and determine which parishes they are best suited for. Placements are then formalized in May. In June another series of workshops for the involved groups takes place.

Crucial to the whole process, says Sweetser, is a two-week period, usually in June, when the old pastor has departed and the new one hasn't yet arrived. The parish is essentially in the hands of the transition team. This "in-between phase is a period of anxiousness," of not knowing but hoping for the best," said Sweetser, but also an opportunity for parishioners to recognize their own responsibility for the parish.

After the pastors have settled in, another series of workshops is scheduled in November, including one involving the new pastors and the transition teams. This, says Sweetser, is "when it all comes together, when we can evaluate how it's worked out.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Strategy Eases Shift from Old Pastor to New
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.