Pastoral Planning Initiative


13 September 2013
Dear Friends in Christ:

Three years ago, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia began implementation of the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative.  This process is designed to allow groups of parishes known as Pastoral Planning Areas (PPAs) within the same geographic area to undertake a program of self-study.  It is led by the pastors in conjunction with parish leadership, parishioners, and the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee.

The need for this process was outlined in a pastoral letter from the Fall of 2010 which called on all parishes in the Archdiocese to determine if they possess the resources necessary to accomplish their roles in the mission of Christ while remaining sustainable and vibrant faith communities.  It is hoped that the end result will be the strongest possible parishes that are poised for stability, growth, and service to God’s people now and far into the future not only here in Montgomery County, but also throughout the Archdiocese.   Last year, a number of PPAs completed this process.  More, ours among them, are scheduled to begin their work this year.  Locally, we will conduct this study in conjunction with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Sacred Heart, Ss. Cosmas and Damian, Saint Augustine, Saint Gertrude, Saint Mary and Saint Matthew parishes.

The work of Parish Area Pastoral Planning is conducted in multiple stages.  It involves a review of information related to demographics, financial and spiritual activity followed by consultation with parish leadership, parishioners and the Archdiocese.  Finally, recommendations are made for the future.  There are three possible outcomes from the work; parish mergers, no change in structure with a plan for future sustainability, or a recommendation for future study.  Additional information about this initiative can be found on the Archdiocesan website at   The process is designed to be highly collaborative and I will work to provide you with as much information as possible on a regular basis.  As parishioners, you should not only be informed, but also engaged as we move forward.  I welcome your feedback and will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

We will formally initiate the process with a special Mass celebrated by our regional bishop, Bishop Thomas, for all parishes involved.  All are invited and welcome to attend.  That Mass will be held at Saint Matthew Church (Conshohocken) on Monday, September 23rd at 7:00 PM.

As we enter into this process.  I ask that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit may fill all of us and that God may grant us the patience and grace to complete this work with the necessary focus and dignity.  Our efforts will ensure that strong parish communities are present to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel for generation yet to come.

Sincerely in Christ,


In-Depth Evaluation of Parish Life

In answer our Archbishop’s Call to Conversion and Holiness and his directive that each parish enter into an eight month “In-Depth Evaluation of Parish Life” I have formed a new committee at Mother of Divine Providence Parish called the Pastoral Planning Core Committee.  The members of this committee are active in our parish, and represent the different demographics of the parish.  These individuals have been given study materials and have gathered faithfully to discuss parish life at Mother of Divine Providence.  These are our responses to the Archbishop’s survey.  I welcome everyone in our parish to prayerfully review and reflect on our responses:

October, 2011

A WORSHIPING PARISH: Prayer and Sacramental Life

In What ways does our parish prayer life strengthen our community?

Prayer sustains us through the good times and bad times of our lives.  It helps us to “keep the faith” and strengthens us in our daily lives.  We come together each week as a faith community to celebrate the mysteries of our faith.

Focus: To look at the quality of our prayer, worship and sacramental life and then develop action steps to deepen them.

Discussion:  A Welcoming and Caring Parish

1. What are our parish strengths?

Worship is definitely a priority in our parish.  Liturgy is done well through planning and preparation; Worship is approached with reverence.   We are a welcoming community to those visiting with us, an obvious fact because of those who visit us and never leave.   Our programs are conducive to participation.

2. What are our parish weaknesses/challenges?

We need to expand and replenish our programs.   The challenge is to enrich or mature our worship experiences; to formalize our programs i.e. Morning Prayer.  This could be accomplished by inviting all present to pray together.  This invitation, once extended to those present may be the tool to helping them deepen their faith through their prayer life.

3. What agreed upon priorities will we address?

We will focus on deepening our worship experiences, by particularly inviting our youth to become more involved in the liturgies.  We need to be more welcoming by evaluating who we are as a parish.  This would be done by identifying the active and inactive community and then focusing on how we can engage the inactive parish membership.

4. What specific action will we take to address this priority?

The Parish Staff will come together to re-form our Liturgy Committee to become a Worship Study Group; invite young people to participate in the Worship Study Group; and therefore expand the perspective of the committee.  The Pastoral Planning Core Committee will make recommendations to the Parish Staff for individuals they feel are good candidates for the Worship Study Group.

5. How and when will it be achieved?

The Worship Study Group will be formed within this year.

6. How and when will it be evaluated?

We will review the survey again in the three to five year timeframe.

November, 2011


In what ways does our parish care for those in need?

Our parish is fully engaged in caring for those in need.  Our parishioners are made aware of the needs within the community and the surrounding area and they respond to those needs with true compassion.

Focus: To evaluate the witness of being a welcoming and caring community and then develop action steps to deepen them.

Discussion:  A Welcoming and Caring Parish

1. What are our parish strengths?

Our parishioners work to help those in need through the countless programs offered within our parish:  Care Ministers, Transportation Ministry, Casserole program, aid to our sister parish – Saint Veronica’s School, Bereavement Committee and pastoral visits.  Our Parish Census offers us the opportunity to reach out to those in need.  As the census is evaluated any card that seems to indicate a need for pastoral care is directed to the Director of Parish Services.  The Director then contacts the individual or family to see where we can help.

2. What are our parish weaknesses/challenges?

Our information is only as good as the data we receive.  We can only help the people that we know about, but we do not know everyone in our parish that is in need.  Beyond the annual Parish Census, we must explore ways to identify those individuals.  Sister Veronica runs reports on our aging community to offer our assistance through a written letter and a follow-up phone call, but this is not the most effective way of surfacing all of our needs.

3. What agreed upon priorities will we address?

We must to continue to find ways to identify those who are suffering, alone and in need assistance.

4. What specific Action will we take to address this priority?

We will reach out to our parishioners asking them to be more aware of our desire to know when someone requires help.  We will engage them through our parish website and weekly bulletin, as well as through our e-mail system, reminding them to contact the Parish Offices to alert us to those requiring help.

5. Who will be responsible?

The Director of Parish Services will take the lead with regard to this action plan.

6. How and when will it be achieved?

Serving those in need is an ever-changing and ongoing process for us.

7. How and when will it be evaluated?

Our programs are evaluated monthly at staff meetings.

January, 2012

A WITNESSING AND PROCLAIMING PARISH:  Invitation and Evangelization

In what ways does our parish witness and proclaim the faith?

We have a “birth to death” approach to our parish with evangelization also being an integral focus of our development in the Faith.

We are a vibrant parish experiencing growth in most of our areas.  No one is excluded from involvement and all are encouraged to participate including our homebound.   We go beyond our own boundaries through our ministries to the homeless and to our sister parish.  Our liturgies are vibrant and have been expanded to include Evening Prayer and solemnities.

Focus: To evaluate the effectiveness of being a witnessing and proclaiming parish and then develop action steps.

Discussion:  A Witnessing and Proclaiming Parish

1. What are our parish strengths?

The members of the parish who participate faithfully in the Mass are strengthened through their participation.   They continually live out their faith through prayer and service.  We have been blessed to have very strong priests assigned to our parish who continue to help us grow in the faith.

2. What are our parish weaknesses/challenges?

We know from the U. S. Census from 2010 that 30% of the people in our area are Catholic.  We also know that of the 30% only 24% come to Mass every week.  Our main challenge is getting remaining 76% of registered, non-practicing Catholics to participate in their faith.  We strive to find ways in which we can share our invitation with our peers to come back and to rethink their feelings about the Church.  There are those who feel disenfranchised, confused, and some that are just plain lazy when it comes to their Catholic faith.  We are challenged to make them understand that our Faith is a gift that can be lost if it is not nourished.  We also know that an increase in vocations will only be achieved if we bring the inactive back to the fold.

3. What agreed upon priorities will we address?

We understand that we are only reaching those in the pews with the Good News that is preached during our Masses. Therefore we must find new and creative ways to reach our “inactive” membership.  We also need to reach out to those Catholics that travel through or work in our area.

4. What specific Action will we take to address this priority?

We will develop “think tanks” through the formation of an Evangelization Study Group along with the development of the Worship Study Group.  We will consider revitalizing the “Landings” program that has been successful here in the past.  We will research the cost of advertising in the King of Prussia/Wayne area so that we can reach the shoppers and those employed in this area with our message.  We will contact the hotels to make sure that our information is current and visible to anyone staying in the area.  We will plan periodic mailings to the entire registered parish that celebrate the liturgies offered at the parish, as well as the good work and fellowship available at the parish.

5. Who will be responsible?

The Pastoral Planning Core Committee will prayerfully consider who should assist with the Worship and Evangelization Study Groups and then send their recommendations to the Executive Secretary in the Parish Office for the pastor’s consideration and invitation.    Members of the PPC Committee will research the costs involved in advertising on bill boards and signage as well as through mailings through the postal service.  The mailings will be prepared at in the Parish Offices.

6. How and when will it be achieved?

We will identify new and creative ways to touch the lives of our fellow Catholics.  This can be achieved through social networks, mailings and e-mails, brochures, study groups, and community building activities.

7. How and when will it be evaluated?

The Evangelization and Worship Study Groups will hold meetings throughout the year to evaluate the development of special projects.  Progress will also be monitored at our bi-month staff meetings.

February, 2012


In what ways does our parish assist all members to grow in the faith?

In addition to regular catechesis through homilies, our weekly bulletin and our parish website, our parish subsidizes the parish school to the extent allowed by the Archdiocese; our public school children are educated in the faith through our Religious Education Program, and our adult population is given the opportunity to join in small group discussions through the “Why Catholic” Program and Woman’s Walk  just to name a few.

Focus: To evaluate the effectiveness of sharing the faith at all age levels and then develop action steps.

Discussion:  A Witnessing and Proclaiming Parish

1. What are our parish strengths?

In keeping with the Mission of the Church we do a good job of educating our children in the faith.  We offer a variety of programs for adults to strengthen their faith.  In the past ten years our parish has expanded its programs and ministries to include a Greeters ministry, Youth Group, Young Adults Group and we are launching a New Beginnings Group for our divorced/separated population.

2. What are our parish weaknesses/challenges?

Although we have made progress in the recent past, we continue to struggle with keeping our high school youth involved in the faith.  Again we have seen change in the area of engaging our young adult population however they still remain somewhat disconnected with the mainstream of the parish.    We also struggle to find ways to encourage all of our parents to fully participate in the faith.  By this we mean that although our parents support educating their children in the faith, they themselves are not necessarily practicing that faith.

3. What agreed upon priorities will we address?

We need to strengthen the existing programs to expand the membership and therefore grow our active parish.   We wish to establish more opportunities for small faith communities to come together to share our faith.

4. What specific action will we take to address this priority?

We would benefit from the formation of a PREP Advisory Board.  Such a board would help to engage parents to become more involved with the education of the children fortifying the parents as the “First Teachers” of their children.   We will offer additional liturgies and sacramental opportunities for our parishioners.  This will be accomplished by establishing and supporting family life for the parish.  Father Cioppi will strive to catechize the people on how to keep Sunday as a family day.  His hope is that families will be strengthened by attending  Mass together, relaxing, playing and dining as a family and then return to the church at the close of their Sunday for Evening Prayer.

5. Who will be responsible?

The Pastor, Parish Staff and various  study groups and committees.

6. How and when will it be achieved?

The PREP Advisory Board has been formed and will continue to meet throughout the year.  Again, we view this as a continually evolving area of need.

7. How and when will it be evaluated?

We will continue to monitor the progress of our existing groups, look for new avenues for evangelization by researching what has worked for other parishes.  This will be accomplished through the regularly scheduled meetings of the PREP Advisory Board, Evangelization Study Group and Staff Meetings.

March, 2012

A PARISH RESPONSIVE TO OTHERS:  Pastoral Outreach and Service for Justice

In what ways does our parish witness and proclaim the faith?

The people of Mother of Divine Providence Parish are generous; in fact their generosity is overflowing.  Their generosity is exhibited by the offering their time, talent and treasure to help those in need.

Focus: To evaluate the level of outreach and service to others and then develop action steps.

Discussion:  A Parish Responsive to Others

1. What are our parish strengths?

Our parish gives generously through Operation Rice Bowl, our casserole program for Saint John’s Hospice, our donations to the food bank at Catholic Social Services in Norristown, our “Giving Tree” project, music project and stocking projects at Christmastime for our sister parish, Saint Veronica’s, collections for Baby’s Breath and other outreach facilities throughout the Archdiocese.   Our families have also responded to emergency needs in our home parish when a family suffers loss from illness or fire.

2. What are our parish weaknesses/challenges?

We continue to recognize our need to evangelize; to re-ignite the fire in our inactive parish membership, and to identify those who wish to learn more about the Catholic Church.  We know that we must do a better job of calling our membership to action when society challenges us to stand up for our faith, but at the same time emphasis the need for peace.  We also need to strengthen our outreach program.

3. What agreed upon priorities will we address?

Our priorities include:  communicating the need for Catholic Action, expanding our Respect Life Committee, developing a viable and stable solution for temporary housing, and establishing a program for ongoing evangelization.

4. What specific Action will we take to address this priority?

We have established a “Catholic Action” tab on our parish website to highlight current affairs that require our attention.  With regard to temporary housing, Sister Veronica Gross will contact the Budget Inn in Norristown to see if their newly renovated facilities will allow for us to rejuvenate our relationship with them to serve the needy.  Establish the Evangelization Committee.

5. Who will be responsible?

The Pastor, and the Parish Staff will be responsible for these current action items.

6. How and when will it be achieved?

Catholic Action is now addressed through our parish bulletin and on our parish website.  The Evangelization Study Group is being formed.   The housing issue will be addressed shortly.

7.       How and when will it be evaluated?

These action items will be evaluated during our regularly scheduled staff meetings and Pastoral Planning Core Committee meetings.

I want to thank the Pastoral Planning Core Committee for their time and willingness to collaborate for the greater good of our parish.

Father Cioppi

Special Communique October 26, 2013

We have been called by our Archbishop to help strengthen the Catholic Church in Philadelphia in each area of the Archdiocese.  This is especially needed at a time in which there has been a great deal of demographic and environmental change here and in our Archdiocese over the past number of years. To do this, a Pastoral Planning process was begun after a general survey of the priests which was completed a number of years ago. After that survey, the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee was formed and planning areas were prioritized. Our entire Archdiocese will be going through this planning process.  As you know some areas have already made assessments, and decisions for change have been made and implemented.

This year, our Pastoral Planning Area (PPA #460) which includes the four parishes of Mother of Divine Providence, Sacred Heart, Saint Augustine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, will be one of the areas completing this process. Within our PPA, a committee was formed that includes the Dean, the Pastors, a member from the Finance Council and Pastoral Council of each parish.  A facilitator and a secretary support the committee. The committee will meet monthly over the next six months (through March 2014).  The work of the committee is to provide a recommendation for change in this area that will strengthen the Catholic mission and presence here.  This recommendation goes to the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee who will review the proposal and offer a recommendation to the Council of Priests.  The Council of Priests will make a final recommendation to the Archbishop. Archbishop Chaput will make a final decision which is planned to be announced by June.  The actual implementation of the plan will take effect July 1, 2013.

In the first meeting of our PPA, the committee reviewed statistical data on the demographics of our area.  We recognized the decline in population, the Baptism/Funeral ratio which is a low 1.12, a reduced level of active participation (23% of the populace is attending Mass regularly), and a decline in the number of available priests.  The Office of Clergy forecasts that hopefully there will be one priest for every 5,000 parishioners, a change from the current ratio of 1 per 3,000 today.

Through group discussions the committee members identified areas of special importance for our local study:  Communication is a key part of the process; we acknowledge that we are members of a broader community together and, in fact, are neighbors with one another.  We want to respect one another and be honest as we articulate what is important about our faith which is so much more than a particular building; we want to respect cultural traditions and the long history that is a beautiful part of our Church here in the Archdiocese.  And we want to seek ways to encourage and support these traditions even as we move forward in the future.

As next steps, each parish will consider how they might survey their Parish-at-large regarding this planning process.  Also, each pastor will call a joint meeting of their Finance and Pastoral Councils to discuss the strengths of the parishes: key indicators of success in what is already present in our parishes; how could our sharing these increase the potential for evangelization; what potential scenarios are seen as strengthening our faith communities by establishing a new faith community in this area.   This joint meeting will take place before the next scheduled meeting of November 5th.

Schedule of Meetings
November 5, December 3, January 14, February 11 and March 11.
PPA 460 Committee Members
Reverend Monsignor Michael T. McCulken – Dean, Deanery 6
Reverend Martin T. Cioppi – Mother of Divine Providence Parish
Mr. Joe Mintzer
Margaret D’Agostino
Reverend Taduesz Gorka – Sacred Heart Parish
Mary Catherine Murphy
Tom Kester
Reverend James A. Lyons – Saint Augustine Parish
John Czarkowski
Janet Kita
Reverend Salvatore Pronesti – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish
Theresa Wagner
Vince Mallon

Questions or comments can be directed to:,,,

Special Communique November 10, 2013

During their second meeting the Pastoral Planning Committee continued their study of the statistical information of the area parishes.  Once again the focus fell on the Archdiocesan projection that there will be one priest for every 5,000 registered members.  Currently the Archdiocese uses the formula of 1 priest per 3,000 registered parishioners.   Given that our Catholic faith depends on priestly service, that we would have no Eucharist without our priests, we must be forward thinking in our planning process.  The work of the committee is to provide a recommendation for change in this area that will strengthen the Catholic mission and presence here.  Specifically, how the four parishes can unite into one, or possibly two, vibrant and fully functionally Catholic parishes.  Complete statistical information for each of the parishes in this area can be found under the “parish” tab on the Archdiocesan website,

The committee discussed the information gleaned from the joint meetings of the Pastoral and Finance Councils held in each parish.  Key indicators of success were identified as: faithful and faith-filled liturgies, fiscal responsibility, strong leadership, engaging the youth to ignite their faith from an early age, challenging our members to serve the parish through prayer and action, a full sacramental life, a strong sense of community, outreach programs, evangelization, and ample opportunities for life-long continued education in our Catholic faith.   The members recognized that by sharing all of these characteristics we will be able to build a stronger Catholic community.

It was confirmed for the committee that when parishes merge and a new parish is formed, all the church buildings will belong to the new parish with one (or possibly two) of them serving as the parish church.  The other churches may continue to be used on occasion for funerals, weddings and special devotions for a time as worship sites.  Income from the lease or sale of any buildings or property, as well as any parish savings and any parish debts or loans, all remain with the newly formed parish.  Nothing goes to the Archdiocese.

The committee reviewed qualities of a vital parish which are the criteria by which the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee will review the area recommendations: Communion, Mission, Administration, Relationship to the Local Church.  A complete outline of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan can be found on the Archdiocesan website by scrolling down the right hand side of the homepage to the “Pastoral Planning Initiative”.

After a thorough discussion the committee concluded that mergers are inevitable for our area and that such a merger would actually strengthen our Catholic community.  It was decided that a survey of parishioners would be the next logical step in this study process.   The members of the committee discussed ways in which such a survey could be presented to effectively reach all of the parishioners involved in a timely fashion.  A preliminary outline of information and questions were discussed and will be refined over the next several weeks as the committee continues to communicate via e-mail to complete the survey instrument that will provided to the parishioners.

During the opening and closing prayer the committee reflected on Ezekiel 36:24-28 and  John 17: 20-24.   We ask that you too “keep an open heart and place a new spirit within you” as we all pray for the success of our planning process, being ever mindful that we are one with the Father.

Our next meeting will take place on December 3.

Questions or comments can be directed to:,,,


Questions or comments are all welcome and can be  e-mailed to your parish rectory as noted above.
Remember be as concise and concrete as possible.
Include your name and contact information.
Be realistic: our parishes cannot continue long as they are, doing nothing is not a realistic option.
Be positive: do not only note objections but offer positive suggestions as to how we can better serve as the Church in our area now and in the future.
Be open: focus on the needs of all the people in our area – not just your own particular parish.
Be Christian: there is no place for vitriol, gossip or imputing bad intentions.  We cannot expect a perfect solution and reasonable people can respectfully disagree as to what is best for the Church in our area.  Everyone, here and in the Archdiocese, is making a good faith effort to do what is best going forward.

Special Communique  – December 8, 2013

The third meeting of the Pastoral Planning Study Committee opened and closed with prayer and reflection on the Second Letter of Peter 1:3-7 and Acts 2:1-4.

“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and power.  For this reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion and devotion with mutual affection.”

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  There then appeared to them tongues as of fire which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The members approved a final outline for the “Bridgeport/Swedesburg/King of Prussia Parishioner Survey”, established a timeline for its release and the collection of the data.  The survey will be launched on all of the parish websites on Monday, December 16th; the closing date for the survey will be Sunday, January 5th.   Be sure to look for more information in your parish bulletin about how to participate in the survey.

Each parish will make paper copies available for their parishioners who do not have Internet access.  These paper surveys will be entered manually in each of the four parish offices.  The data analysis will be shared with the members of the Study Committee prior to the January 14th meeting.  The data will be discussed at that meeting.

The committee spent time carefully looking at the possible scenario of two parishes being formed: one in King of Prussia and one in Bridgeport/Swedesburg.   Extensive discussion continued regarding the statistical data provided by the Archdiocese, with focus on the actual membership of each existing parish.  The committee also reviewed the necessary infrastructure currently used to support and maintain parish services in each of the parishes: seating capacity of the churches, parking, meeting and office facilities, and the condition of mechanical support systems, just to name a few.  As this comparison moved forward, some members realized that they had limited knowledge of the facilities of the surrounding parishes.  It was agreed that members would take time to visit each of the other parishes to look over their facilities prior to the next meeting.  Additionally, the Archdiocese engaged an outside consulting agency to complete a Physical Plant Assessment of all of the campuses in Bridgeport/Swedesburg/King of Prussia.  The members will receive a copy of these reports to review the information in preparation for the January meeting.

A very lively discussion took place regarding our role in the Universal Church and how in the future an outcome of this planning process should help us to work towards being focused not just on our individual parishes but on the larger Church as a whole.  We share the same faith and face the same challenges.  We can help one another to become stronger disciples in Christ together.

The meeting concluded with the pastors imparting a blessing on the members of the committee.    Each member left the meeting exhausted, but with a strong feeling that the Holy Spirit was moving through them and the committee!

The next meeting of the Pastoral Planning Study Committee will take place on January 14th.

Questions or comments can be directed to:,,,

Special Communique – January 14, 2014

The fourth meeting of the Pastoral Planning Study Committee  took place on January 14, 2014.  The meeting opened and closed with prayer and reflection on Matthew 6:25-34.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the sky, they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more important than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?  Why are you anxious?   Learn the way the wolf flowers grow.  They do not work or spin, but I tell you not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown in the oven tomorrow, will He not much more provide for you?  O you of little faith?  So, do not worry.  You heavenly Father knows what you need.   But seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be give you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of its self.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

The committee members reviewed the responses to the “King of Prussia, Bridgeport and Swedesburg Parishioner Survey”.  In total 821 individual and household responses were received.  The Committee is grateful to all those who took the time to participate in this important survey.  It not only proved to be a useful tool for our Pastoral Planning process and discussions, but also will prove invaluable to the pastors and council members in the transitions to the future.

A great deal of open, frank and passionate discussion as well as analysis of every scenario took place, and ultimately led the committee members to home in on the final scenario that will become our recommendation to the Archdiocesan Strategic  Planning Committee:  two parishes with the Churches being Mother of Divine Providence and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The process continues forward as two representatives from the committee:  John Czarkowski and Joe Mintzer work with our Dean, Monsignor Michael McCulken to draft the text of the proposal for our recommendation.  This draft will be presented to this committee at the February meeting when we will seek final consensus on the text of the recommendation.  The final submission to the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee will include a response from each of the pastors involved.  These responses will be drafted in consultation with the parishes’ Pastoral Council and Finance Council.

The Committee will also prepare lists of parish strengths to be utilized in the new parishes and possible obstacles to be overcome.   These lists along with the rich amount of information gleaned from the parishioner surveys will be provided as a helpful reference and resource to the new parishes.

After the review by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, their recommendation will be given to the Council of Priests for review and then after that to the Archbishop.  A final decision will most likely be made by May.

We continue to request your prayers and your patience as we move forward through this process.   The new parishes will need you and your participation to build a stronger Catholic future in this area.  It is important to remember that we are one faith community and as such we must band together with a promise that we “seek first the Kingdom of God”.

Our next meeting will take place on February 11, 2014.

Questions or comments can be directed to:,,,

Special Communique – February 23, 2014

The fifth meeting of the local Pastoral Planning Committee took place on February 11, 2014.  Bishop Daniel E. Thomas was present.  The meeting opened and closed with prayer and reflection on John: 1:1-5.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.  What came to be through Him was life and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and darkness has not overcome it.”

The draft document, crafted by Joe Mintzer, John Czarkowski and Monsignor McCulken, which contains the recommendation for the Bridgeport, King of Prussia and Swedesburg PPA was reviewed, edited and approved by all members of our committee.  As a reminder: the committee’s recommendation is that Mother of Divine Providence Parish continue in King of Prussia and that the parishes in Bridgeport/Swedesburg merge together into one parish at the location of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The committee wishes to stress that we are not alone in this process; currently there are 7 pastoral planning areas, and 45 parishes involved in Pastoral Planning throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the vast majority of which are suburban parishes.

On Wednesday, February 12th, the final recommendation from this Pastoral Planning Area was presented to the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee (ASPC).  The pastors were present from each of the parishes.  The pastors presented their response to and comments about this PPA recommendation to the ASPC.  The ASPC will make their recommendation to the Council of Priests who will then make a recommendation to Archbishop Chaput.  The Archbishop’s decision will be released at the end of May, along with the appointments of pastors.  The effective date for all mergers is July 1, 2014.

Bishop Thomas wishes us to know that the Archbishop and his Auxiliary Bishops are keenly aware of the difficulty involved in this planning process, and of the pain, loss and grief that we feel.  Bishop Thomas reminded us that we are a resurrection people – and that with every death there is new life.  He reminded us that our goal is to make living, thriving parishes, to take the flame of faith in each parish and join these individual flames together to spark an even larger flame of faith throughout our community.  “We are all in the barque of Peter and rowing in the same direction.”   Please continue to pray for the success of this process.

Our next meeting will take place on March 11, 2014.

Questions or comments are all welcome and can be e-mailed to your parish rectory:

Questions or comments can be directed to:,,,

Special Communique – March 23, 2014

The sixth meeting of the Pastoral Planning Study Committee took place on March 11, 2014. All members, the Dean and Facilitator were present.

The Opening Prayer was taken from the Book of Blessings, page 191; this was the prayer used at every Vatican II session…As we gather in your name, may we temper justice with love, so that all our discussions and reflections may be pleasing to you…Our prayer continued from Acts 2:42-47…They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life…and 4:32-37…The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but that they had everything in common.   Upon reflection, the members commented that the readings were very fitting to our situation, specifically with regard to our maintaining the focus on our “community of faith” while merging our assets  for the greater good of that faith.

The purpose of this meeting was to review the individual parish responses to questions posed by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee.  The ASPC requested clarification of several points upon their review of our written recommendation; that Mother of Divine Providence Parish continue in King of Prussia, and that the parishes in Bridgeport/Swedesburg merge together into one parish at the location of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

In their written responses each parish listed the qualities and factors that are ideal in a newly formed parish in Bridgeport; each noted specific features in their parish that would be advantageous, and those that would be a disadvantage to the new parish community; they listed unique opportunities found in their parish that would promote future growth of the Church; and lastly each parish outlined how their site would have to adapt to serve the educational, social and spiritual needs of the parishioners in the newly formed parish.  A robust discussion followed with the final result continuing to support the recommendation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel being the site for the merger in Bridgeport/Swedesburg.

Moving forward, the 7 Pastoral Planning Areas and 45 parishes currently  participating in this planning process throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, prayerfully await the final decision of our Archbishop.  The Pastors of PPA 460 have met with the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee to discuss the recommendation.  Upon their review the recommendations will be forwarded to the Priest Council for review and discussion.  The input of both the Priest Council and the Strategic Planning Committee, along with the initial recommendation is then sent to Archbishop Chaput, who will make the final decisions.  The effective date for all mergers is July 1, 2014.

We continue to request your prayers and your patience with this process, ever while remaining fully confident that it is important to building a stronger faith community in our area.

There are no future meetings planned for this committee.

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