The future and the past were major themes in the Diocese of Wilmington during an eventful year
Highlights of 2016 in the Diocese of Wilmington included a lot of history and plans to the future.
The future was a theme of Bishop Malooly’s pastoral letter, issued in May on Pentecost Sunday, “Together in the Spirit – A Pastoral Vision.”
The bishop’s letter outlined the progress of the four priorities for the diocese that he announced in 2012 — new models of parish structure and administration, new evangelization efforts, renewal of catechesis at all levels and reinforcement of the baptismal call to holiness with a special effort to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
The bishop’s pastoral mainly discussed plans for parish structure and administration.
Bishop Malooly said the resident pastor model of parish leadership will be a dominant model for the next 10 years but the “linkage model,” one pastor for two or more church communities, already a model for some parishes, will mean parishes will be sharing administrative resources in the future that will also require more “creative collaborations” in church communities.
Such collaborations will include parish life coordinators (ministers), sacramental ministers (a priest authorized by the bishop), and priest moderators appointed by the bishop who will supervise pastoral care of a parish with a parish life coordinator.
“The level of partnership I am envisioning is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a preference,” the bishop wrote in “Together in the Spirit.”
He noted parishes in the same regions could save in expenses for purchases, share part-time staffing, coordinate Mass and holy day scheduling, jointly sponsor religious education programs, sponsor joint reconciliation services, or care for the poor together.
• Optimistic about the future
The bishop directed deaneries to investigate and discuss possibilities for those and other shared services.
“We can no longer proceed in the same manner as we have in the past,” Bishop Malooly wrote.
“I am optimistic for the future of our diocese and have great hope that some of the changes that I have outlined will make us stronger, more united, and more sound in our pastoral operations.”
• Cathedral’s bicentennial
Historic moments in the diocese included parish anniversaries, most notably the 200th anniversary of the Cathedral of St. Peter Parish in Wilmington.
Bishop Malooly celebrated a Mass at the cathedral on April 10 for its bicentennial year and current and past parishioners celebrated the anniversary with a gala dinner Oct. 6 and the Hotel du Pont.
The cathedral parish was already 52 years old when it became the bishop’s church of the newly established Diocese of Wilmington in 1868. Currently, the parish is home to about 130 families, Father Leonard Klein, its administrator, said. He also stated that he appreciates the diocese’s commitment to keep its bishops’ “home parish” in the same place for 200 years.
• Parish histories
Other notable parish anniversaries in 2016 included St. Joseph on the Brandywine’s 175th “birthday,” St. Teresa’s 150th anniversary in Port Deposit, Md., and St. Matthew in Wilmington celebrated its 75th year.
A sad historic event was the closing of Christ Our King Church in Wilmington’s Ninth Ward after 90 years, due to a steep decline in Mass attendance and sharp rise in maintenance costs.
Bishop Malooly, at “King’s” closing Mass on Oct. 30, recalled the days past when the parish “excelled in everything — spirit, faith, service, athletics” — and said, “That spirit will stay alive in the hearts of all those who were touched in some way by this parish.”
• School news
Two schools in the diocese received national honors in September. St. John the Beloved in Wilmington and Christ the Teacher in Glasgow were named National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
It was the second national recognition bestowed in 2016 at Christ the Teacher. The school’s nurse, Chriss Zimmerman was recognized as private and parochial school nurse of the year by the National Association of School Nurses in April.
Christ the Teacher and St. John the Beloved schools were also two stops in the diocese made by the National Catholic Education Association’s president Tom Burnford in September. He also visited St. Mark’s High School and St. Peter’s Cathedral School on his diocesan tour.
The Office of Catholic Education began the 2016-17 school year with a Day of Spirituality for teachers and administrators at St. Mark’s High School on Aug. 22. The guest speaker was former Wilmington priest and chancellor Bishop John Barres of Allentown, who told diocesan educators to be “exclamation points of faith.”
Bishop Barres became an exclamation point in his first diocese again when the news came in December that Pope Francis had named him bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, on New York’s Long Island, one of the largest in the nation.
• Peace in the community
In September, Bishop Malooly joined in the U.S. bishops’ National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities, by convening an ecumenical prayer service for peace at the Cathedral of St. Peter on Sept. 9.
Bishop Malooly called for prayer, conversation and ministry in the community to build peace and end racism.
“Strip away pride, suspicion and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities,” the bishop said.
• Election prayer
Another call to prayer was issued by Bishop Malooly prior to the presidential election in November. In a letter to parishioners, the bishop called on Catholics to participate in the political process by being informed voters and by praying the “Litany of St. Thomas More, Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers” after all Masses the weekend before Election Day.
Citing the temptation during the contentious election season to retreat to the sidelines, Bishop Malooly wrote, “If we don’t bring civility and Christian values into the public arena, who will?”
• Sacraments celebrated
The more than 100 couples who took time to celebrate significant marriage milestones at the annual diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass in October represented 5,600 years of married life. Bill and Amee McCarthy marked their 75th anniversary at the Mass celebrated by Bishop Malooly at St. Joseph Church in Middletown.
Also, Bishop Malooly ordained Father Lance Martin to the diocesan priesthood on May 28. The newest priest of the diocese was assigned to St. John the Beloved Parish in Wilmington.