Your input is vital in revisiting strategic plan

| November 6, 2014

NienstedtBlMy trip to our sister Diocese of Kitui in Kenya paradoxically gave me new insights into our mission here as a local Church.

When I asked the energetic Bishop Muheria what were his primary goals and areas of focus for his own diocese, he quickly answered: 1) Attention to those with Special Needs (the physically and mentally marginalized); 2) Reverent and devout celebration of the Sacred Liturgy; and 3) Building up teamwork (Solidarity) throughout his local Church. His clear vision of what should be done reminded me of the desires I heard seven years ago when I arrived as coadjutor: 1) a Strategic Plan for parishes and schools; 2) a program for the New Evangelization; and 3) greater attention to youth and young adults. I believe now, seven years later, that we have made progress on all three of these foci: 1) the 2010 five-year Strategic Plan for parishes and the Aim Higher program for Catholic schools meet the first important goal; 2) the Rediscover: initiative has successfully responded to the second; and 3) the Archdiocesan Youth Day, the annual Men’s Conference and the Rediscover: gathering for young adults have invited our youth and young adult Catholics to engage more fully their Catholic faith.

Thus, as I returned from Kitui, I found myself wanting to renew those original goals, but also to continue this local Church’s outreach to victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

Almost five years ago, when we launched the Strategic Plan for parishes, we were responding to demographic shifts, a decline in the number of priests able to lead parishes, and an aging infrastructure. We knew at that time, particularly because it was the first Archdiocese-wide strategic planning initiative since World War II, that we would need to revisit our plans again to make sure we were on the right course.

I believe that the time has come to do this now. In fact, I am convinced that we should revisit our strategic plans every five years to make necessary changes to keep us on course toward a strong future. For this reason, I asked Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché to identify leaders for this task force. He has tapped Father John Bauer and Doctor Marilou Eldred, who have now convened a task force of parish and other local Catholic leaders to review the excellent proposals submitted by each deanery for the 2010 plan, determine what work remains to be done, and find out what further steps should be taken in the near future. (See related article here.)

Your input is vital to this strategic planning process, so I ask you please to talk with your pastor about your ideas regarding your parish community, its relationship to neighboring parishes as well as the big picture for your whole region of parish communities.

Just as your parish is asked to be operating on an updated strategic plan to ensure that it works within budget while sustaining essential ministries, so should our entire local Church look for ways we can work together with greater efficiency to live out our mission of making the name of Jesus Christ known and loved.
As I remarked at the outset of our last strategic planning initiative, while the times may change, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

We must all place our trust in Jesus, bringing to him in prayerful discernment our questions and concerns, our triumphs and tribulations. Working together, with Christ as our guide, we can ensure a bright future for our entire local Church for this generation and generations yet to come. I am grateful to all who will be involved in this process. I am confident that we will be able to build on the successful work that has already been achieved.

I know that these are challenging days for us as a local Church, but that cannot distract us from the critical mission of envisaging planning, and praying for the future, a future that we hope will be brighter and better than we can even imagine.

May God bless you!

Category: Only Jesus

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