The response acknowledged receipt, but has neither recognition of value in that day nor sign that the account sent was actually read. The day was not an exercise for the Archbishop, but sending an account seemed to its participants to be timely and helpful given the need to discern the way forwards in the Archdiocese. It was certainly a day in which the faith of those present was voiced, and the aspects of Church that help and obstruct that faith were discerned (e.g. obstructions including a lack of dialogue, and a lack of a sense of partnership with those in roles of leadership...).
Its a one-dimensional view to look at the time spent on that day (110 people there for up to 5 hours each ) and the collation of the day by a group of people giving a total of a further ~100 hours effort afterwards. That effort is worth celebrating and acknowledging. A more significant figure is that people came from 20 parishes. In planning the day it had been hoped that this event would quickly be eclipsed by formal initiatives to forge vision across the Archdiocese, led by the Archbishop - yet such formal Archdiocesan (or deanery) events are not envisaged. The Archbishop presumably has the vision he wants, if not one shared by his flock. For the dangers of this read comments recorded in the account of the day... and a recent report of statements by Pope Francis, from the VaticanInsider, No to pastors who speak and act but do not listen. 14 March was not seeking to express a strategy for the Archdiocese (that was the role of NITFT some ten years ago) but respectful dialogue would have seemed an appropriate response.
The value of the 14 March event remains in what was experienced, heard, said and also written down. As dialogue between leadership and others fails to be established in the Archdiocese, with letters expressing concerns being responded to with much the same text we received for this account, it becomes all the more important that participants and others interested remember and assimilate the value of 14 March and also the other letters and articles, some drawing attention to contrasting experiences in other archdioceses.
It is no doubt difficult for the Archbishop to read and respond to all correspondence on the reorganisation. Yet there are now oft-expressed concerns that are being ignored. The growing anxiety is this: if it is only clergy with identical notions of ecclesiology who are being heard now, then why should it be different in 3 months time?
Even in practical terms, gathering views from people across parishes as happened on March 14th would have been thought to help make correspondence and assimilation of ideas from across the archdiocese more tractable, so it is doubly disappointing that the account of 14 March was not received in the spirit in which it was offered.
Its seems that in the Autumn single meetings per cluster with the Archbishop are currently intended. How this fits into the total reorganisation process is very unclear. These meetings need to be merely the opening to a richer, slower process with prayer, discernment, organisation and dialogue. Unless we act quickly, and again without the Archbishop's initiative, we will come to these meetings not only lacking the necessary deanery and archdiocesan structures and communication but also lacking preparation, and with no further development of a shared vision in the intervening months.
Mike Mineter 30 June 2015.