The Diocesan Pastoral Council met April 28 at St. Benedict Church in Avon, where members heard a presentation from St. John’s School of Theology professor Barbara Sutton; diocesan director of planning Brenda Kresky; and diocesan director of human resources Bailey Ziegler.
They updated the council on the progress of the diocesan pastoral planning process and introduced a new initiative: “regional ministry gatherings” where parishes would partner together for regional formation and training.
Sutton, who is a consultant to the diocesan Planning Council, implored members to keep the Gospel at the forefront of planning discussions in their parishes and communities.
“The Bible is not just a place to put prayer cards,” Sutton said. “Scriptures do not belong in the bottom drawer of our desk. St. Pope John Paul II said the church already has a plan and that plan can be found in the Bible. If we are not people of Scripture, if we have not opened Scripture or listened Sunday after Sunday, we can’t really be faithful planners.”
She added that pastoral planning takes a lot of trust.
“What people are thinking about is how many parishes are going to close. ‘Is my parish going to close?’ That is not the purpose of pastoral planning,” she said. “Pastoral planning is for the revitalization of our parishes to be and to live and to implement the Gospel. That’s what we are about.”
Kresky shared feedback from more than a dozen parish meetings she has attended in the last six weeks since taking over as planning director in February. She also sketched out a timeline for the next steps.
Substantial recommendations from all the parishes in the diocese were due to the Planning Office April 30. Kresky will compile the reports and meet with the diocesan Planning Council in mid-May to review the findings. She said a plan will be developed by fall and implemented by July 2019.
Regional ministry gatherings
Ziegler presented a newly proposed initiative of the diocese called “regional ministry gatherings.” This idea, while still in its initial planning stages, is backed by Bishop Donald Kettler and has been a collaboration of diocesan staff members.
“The diocesan staff has been working over the last year to prepare some new models of ministry to pastoral leaders in the diocese,” Ziegler said. “Our hope was to put together a way to minister together across our offices and be out in the parishes more often.
“Through this planning process, it has become clear that parishes will continue to become more creative in sharing resources and best ministry practices and will continue to want and need formation and training opportunities for all leaders.”
While diocesan staff has been collaborating on what opportunities they might be able to offer to parishes, they also will be sending a survey to ask parishes what needs they have that the diocese can help fulfill.
The hope is that two or three diocesan offices will “go out” to areas they don’t often get to and offer to meet the real needs of parishes on a regional level. This gives diocesan staff a sense of missionary discipleship and creates opportunities for parishes to come together for networking and relationship building, both with the diocesan staff and with other neighboring parishes, Ziegler said.
More information will be provided to parishes as the idea unfolds.
Bishop Kettler asked DPC members to go back to their constituents with the following questions:
- What is the greatest area of need for training in your parish/organization?
- What would motivate people to attend a regional training?
The next meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council will be in September.