Yesterday, Thursday, the priests of the deanery met with the bishop at St. Edward's in Texarkana. We have the largest geographical deanery of the, newly designated, deaneries in the diocese. From being the Southwest Deanery, we are now the Ouachita Deanery, encompassing more counties (16) than we did before. In this deanery there are thirteen parishes and six priests. I realized at the meeting the other day that I'm the oldest. This is kind of funny when you realize that I'm the youngest priest of Subiaco Abbey. Go figure. Of these thirteen parishes, I am the only pastor who does not have a mission parish. What that portends for the future is not known to me.
The pastors were given the role of facilitating parish planning in their various cures. This information will, in turn, be used to prepare a deanery 5-year plan. The combination of the various deanery plans will then be the springboard for the diocesan plan.
Unlike previous "plans" that we have experienced, this one is from the ground up. Our history shows that we've usually received plans from on high and were then expected to implement them---usually with un-funded mandates attached. This process is quite different than what we've experienced before, and I believe that it has a much greater chance of success than previous ones.
A tip of the capuche to Bishop Taylor and his curia for approaching the future in this novel way.