The Rev. John Sheridan, pastor of St. James Church in Salem, attended yesterday’s media briefing at the Pastoral Center and strongly endorsed the new plan.
“We’ve been working on this for more than two years,” he said. “I’m just delighted with how well we’ve come together on this throughout the city ...
“I don’t see this as a contraction in any way,” he said. “It’s a new beginning.”
In Beverly, the three churches had already experienced a collaboration when the Rev. David Barnes, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, was given the additional duties of administrator at St. Margaret Church last year.
Barnes said the three Beverly churches also share resources in such areas as religious education and youth ministries.
“We’re a little bit ahead of the curve on some of those things,” he said.
Barnes, who has been at St. Mary’s since 2000 and was named priest of the year at the 2007 Boston Men’s Catholic Conference, said he suspects that he will be switched out of Beverly in the shuffling of pastors.
“My guess is that I would not be staying, but it’s only a pure guess on my part,” he said.
This first group of a dozen collaboratives will be given considerable support from the archdiocese as both they and the archdiocese go through what one official described as a “learning phase.”
“It’s something like a beta test,” Soper said, referring to a common test for computers before a product release.
There will be training for both priests and lay members in many areas, including evangelization, which will focus on bringing back inactive, or so-called “lapsed” Catholics, and recruiting new members, particularly young adults who may not have a church affiliation.
Staff writer Paul Leighton contributed to this story.