It is almost a cliché to say that “no one likes change.”  I don’t know if that is true or not for most people, but one thing I do know:  Change, even when it is needed, is not always easy.

We have been going through some very significant changes at the Pastoral Center, the “headquarters,” if you will, of the Archdiocese of Portland, serving the many parishes and schools of western Oregon.  I can say without hesitation that these changes are not easy, but that they are timely and needed for us to move forward with the work of the New Evangelization in this local Church.

When I first arrived here as the new Archbishop over a year ago, I decided that I would spend my first year getting to know this local Archdiocese of Portland.  I did the best I could to listen, observe and learn.  This involved assessing the current state of affairs, both within the Pastoral Center offices and throughout the Archdiocese in western Oregon.  It also included an attempt to objectively identify the needs of this local community of faith in the Archdiocese.

Coupled with the above, I have spent much time in prayer and reflection on the mission that the Lord Jesus has entrusted to me here as the shepherd called to minister to and lead this local Church according the mind and heart of the Good Shepherd.  I am by no means perfect in this regard, and I do not individually enjoy the charism of infallibility (just ask my mother!), but as they say, my heart is in the right place.  I desire only what God wants for us and what will help us all achieve the goal of our faith, i.e. salvation.

I have already identified some of my top priorities moving forward.  They include, but are not limited to the following:  The education, catechesis and faith formation of our people, from the earliest days of childhood and into the senior years; the revitalization, renewal and reform of the divine worship we offer God in the sacred liturgy and in the sacraments of the Church; and the service of charity to all of our brothers and sisters most in need.  Included in all of this is an acute awareness of and attentiveness to the cultural diversity present in our local Church.

These are the “three fronts” of the New Evangelization, i.e. faith formation, divine worship and the service of charity.  There are many other needs, for example marriage and family life and young adult ministry, but they are essentially related to these three areas of focus.  

After spending my first year here, I decided to bring in outside consultants who are experts in the reorganization and restructuring of Church entities.  They came to us highly recommended by others, and they have proven to be invaluable in helping us assess the current state of affairs and chart a way forward.  In all honesty, they confirmed in many instances my own observations, but also surfaced some other things of which I was unaware.

As a result of this study, my assessment of their observations and recommendations, and my own observations over this past year, we have begun to implement significant changes in our Pastoral Center operations.  We do this in order to better respond to current needs and to be more effective in responding to those needs, keeping a sharp focus on the mission of the Church and the priorities that have been identified.

A major part of this reorganization involves changes in staffing.  In order to allow me to move ahead with this new vision and plans for our future together, several key staff persons are departing their service as employees of the Archdiocese.  In addition, one long time employee has taken the opportunity to retire.  All have agreed to assist us for a month with the transition.

I want to publicly and sincerely express my gratitude to these fine individuals for their years of faithful service to Christ and his Church here in the Archdiocese.  We will be forever grateful for the contributions they have made to build up the Body of Christ.  Their departure should in no way diminish their significant roles in the story of this local Church.

So, change is difficult and involves some sense of loss as we see longtime friends depart.  It is to this point that I wish to express one final point.  I suppose it is natural to see such deep and significant changes as being somehow a criticism or rejection of the past.  I sincerely do not want it to be seen in this way.  I have nothing but the deepest respect and gratitude for these fine people.  Almost all of them were here during some very difficult and challenging times for the Archdiocese. It is largely due to their dedication and hard work that this local Church came back from bankruptcy and began to rebuild.

But with changing times come changing priorities and needs.  For us to move forward and meet the challenges we face today and in the future, reorganization and “re-tooling” are needed at this time.  It is with a tremendous sense of mission and enthusiasm that we move forward together.  There will be some restructuring of the offices even as we begin to fill vacated positions and staff new positions.  I humbly ask your prayers as we begin to rebuild and look to a future full of hope.
And please remember the staff members who are leaving and their families.  May they find a new path as God continues to lead and guide them.