Regional ministry pilot program set to launch in October in Fergus Falls

A new form of diocesan ministry is taking flight in the western part of the diocese beginning in October. Diocesan offices are piloting a new regional approach to ministry that will offer formation and educational opportunities to pastoral leaders.

On Oct. 25, a group of diocesan staff will travel to Fergus Falls to conduct the first Regional Ministry Gathering at Our Lady of Victory Church. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will include prayer, an opening talk and three workshops that attendees may choose from. The event will conclude at 8:30 p.m.

The overall theme is focused on baptism, “Called to be… Prepared to do…” and is meant to be introspective.

Subjects for the evening’s presentations were selected based on a survey of pastors, parish staff and leaders of various ministries in the area. Because this is a needs-driven initiative, topics for the event include:

  • A discussion on pastoral planning by Brenda Kresky, diocesan planning director;
  • An interactive session on fostering a culture of life by Janet Dusek and Jill Svihel from the Office of Marriage and Family; and
  • A panel presentation in Spanish on the results of the V National Encuentro with Mayuli Bales, Father Oswaldo Roche and Alejandra Mancilla.

The initiative is a response to Bishop Donald Kettler’s call for diocesan offices to increase their presence in parishes, said Bailey Ziegler, director of human resources for the diocese and lead coordinator of the new endeavor. The goals of the gatherings are:

  • For diocesan staff to collaborate to provide ongoing and lifelong formation to empower parish leaders;
  • To provide opportunities for networking and relationship building between diocesan offices and parishes, as well as between parishes;
  • To meet the real needs of parishes and not add an extra burden;
  • Building more inclusive communities through intercultural competencies as well as modeling that through intentionally inclusive gatherings.

Ziegler said building relationships with people working in the church is critical.

“Connecting with the parishes feels especially important as we face these new opportunities and challenges together, and finding ways to support parish needs is important to diocesan offices. Especially with more lay ministers serving in the church and the growing Hispanic/Latino population — programs that meet the training needs of ministers and that are inclusive of our diverse church are important,” she said.

Although the pilot gathering will focus on pastoral leaders in the Fergus Falls/Wadena and Alexandria/Morris deaneries, anyone is invited to attend. The event is free, but registration is required by visiting

“Our hope is that all of our participating communities see a positive impact,” Ziegler said. “For our diocesan leaders, we will get a chance to connect and learn what is working and what is not working from parishes — which will shape how we’re serving.

“We also are looking forward to seeing more parishes connect with one another and share practices and resources with one another,” she said. “That’s the cool thing about the Catholic Church — we are all in it together. Instead of competing with one another, the more we share and learn together the stronger our parishes will be — which should impact the whole community. When our parishes are thriving and living out the Gospel they’re better equipped carry out their mission.”

As with any new initiative, Ziegler said there are “unknowns.” The hope of the pilot event is to work out some of the details. Similar gatherings will be held in the future in other regions of the diocese in the coming year.

“We know we will learn from this first event, and we are always open to feedback,” she said.
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“Our greatest hope is that people walk away from these events feeling fed — to go back to their ministries with renewed energy, new ideas, helpful resources and connections with people. It’s not about going in and teaching parishes what they need to know, but about sharing and renewal,” Ziegler said.

Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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