The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the beginning of the implementation of Parish Pastoral Planning Initiative Dec. 14. The first 22 of 44 Pastoral Planning Areas (PPAs), each made up of several parishes in the same geographic vicinity, will begin their work of developing and implementing their Parish Pastoral Plans.

Under the leadership of Msgr Arthur E. Rodgers, coordinator of Archdiocesan Planning Initiatives and the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, these PPAs will take part in a prayerful and participative process by which each parish clearly defines its identity, mission, and goals while working to determine if it has the resources required for sustained operation.

It is expected that the first 22 PPAs will complete the work of planning and implementation over the next three years. The remainder of the PPAs will likely require an additional three years to complete their work. At this time, no decisions have been made regarding any of the PPAs.

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. To address these challenges, a pastoral letter, ā€œCalled to Conversion and Holiness,ā€ was distributed to all the faithful of the Archdiocese in the fall of 2010. It outlined the need to examine all 266 parishes in order to determine if they possess the resources to accomplish their role in the mission of Christ and remain sustainable and vibrant faith communities.

The work of Parish Area Pastoral Planning is conducted in three stages involving review of information, consultation and recommendations. There are two possible outcomes of the work:Ā  parish mergers or no change in structure but a plan for future sustainability. For a detailed overview of the stages, criteria for parish mergers and possible outcomes visit http://archphila.org/conversion/conversion_index.htm