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Archbishop Mancini presents diocesan awards of merit during visit to Amherst

Archbishop Anthony Mancini presents the Archdiocesan Medal of Merit to Mary Lou Bourgeois of St. John the Baptist Church in Springhill, while her husband Jack Bourgeois looks on.
Archbishop Anthony Mancini presents the Archdiocesan Medal of Merit to Mary Lou Bourgeois of St. John the Baptist Church in Springhill, while her husband Jack Bourgeois looks on. - Contributed

On Jan. 1, Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth Anthony Mancini released the action plan for New Parishes: Stronger Together.

This action plan takes the diocese on a path to merge 66 existing parishes and 25 missions into 20 new parishes.

These new parishes will benefit from a greater number of people to draw on, improved and transparent leadership structures, and shared ministry and mission.

The first phase of implementation required existing parishes to form transition teams within their new grouping. These teams of six to eight people will be made up of the pastors and representative parishioners from each church in the grouping.

Parish staff can contribute and support this group but generally are not members of the transition team. The team’s task will be to lay the groundwork for a merger of the separate entities by no later than Dec. 31, 2019.

Some current parishes have been living and working toward a combined reality for some time. Other parishes function as one de facto through shared ministry and experience. Other parishes still have not yet begun to look at the reality of consolidation. As a result, mergers will occur throughout the course of 2019 as the transition process is completed.

The Cumberland County Transition Leadership Team has representation from each existing parish community. The team is working on the merger in Cumberland County using the guidelines set out by the Diocesan Transition Team.

One of the critical tasks for the regional transition team was to submit a name for the new parish to the Diocesan Transition team for review and approval by the archbishop. While each community will retain the current name of their existing church, it is necessary to have a name for the larger countywide parish.

After receiving over thirty suggested names, the sub-committee of the transition team put forward three names for a final vote.

The key focus of the archbishop’s visit to Cumberland County on May 26 was to award the Diocesan Medal of Honour to parishioners from across the county.

A small committee from each community selected one individual to receive this award. A daunting task given the number of individuals in each community who could be awarded this medal.

The medal is awarded to: “...individuals who have given themselves in generous service of the church and community. They have followed the example of Christ, who came to serve, not be served, and give His life for others; we are recognizing what they have done and also the spirit of Christian service which they imbue in their environments and relationships; not the quantity of their deeds but the quality; honoring also their loved ones and others who have supported them and made it possible to give of themselves; knowing always that the work is all about God and his church.”

The following individuals received the medal: Doris Murray, St. Thomas More, Pugwash, Norma Jean Collinson, St. Brigid, Parrsboro, Mary Lou Bourgeois, St. John the Baptist, Springhill, Stewart Feeley, St. Cornelius, Streets Ridge, Jim Scopie, St. Thomas Aquinas, Joggins, Margie Harrison, St. Paul the Apostle and Glenna O’Quinn, Holy Family, Amherst.

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