We encourage future Collaboratives to think about the time they have before the Collaborative will start. Divide the time into three-month segments, and choose a task or tasks for each segment. Example, if a Collaborative is envisioning a Phase Six startup (June, 2018), allow 18 months to prepare. Advance preparations should commence in January, 2017. (Later Phases can adapt this schedule to their hoped-for launch date)
January – March: winter months might be a great time to schedule a fun activity like a family movie night or spaghetti supper, providing a casual atmosphere for parishioners from each parish to meet.
April - June: plan a Holy Hour for the Parish Councils and Finance Councils.
July – September: people may be away during the summer months, but scheduling a cook out or picnic would offer another informal, fun, way to bring parishioners together.
October – December: plan a joint meeting of the Finance Councils at which you look at each others’ budgets. To gather all parishioners together, plan a vespers service for the four Sundays of Advent, alternating locations.
January – March: invite a group of people from each Parish to join the Councils for a basement to attic tour of every building in the Parishes of your Collaborative. When the tour is done, meet for a cup of tea and begin an informal discussion of how space might be used once the Collaborative is formed. The Collaborative is just six months away! Plan regular Holy Hours for members of the Councils of all parishes to come together in prayer. Alternate locations. Lent and Easter season offer wonderful opportunities to, again, bring all parishioners together in a prayerful setting such as a Lenten mission or joint retreat.
April – May: Plan a collaborative-wide Pentecost celebration, or May crowning. Plan monthly vespers services during these final three months of preparation, alternating locations. Begin training people for hospitality ministry. This is KEY to being a welcoming, inviting, collaborative. Recruit new ministers of hospitality and encourage current ministers to commit to training, regardless of their length of service, and learning new techniques to be real ministers of welcome. Make sure that all training is rooted in prayer.
June: your new collaborative is inaugurated! Advance preparation can be of extraordinary value. Throughout all of this, parishioners need to be kept informed of progress through bulletin notices and collaborative-wide information sessions. The up-coming collaboration should be part of the General Intercessions at weekend Mass.