St. Joseph in Red Wing: Fewer meetings, more results

| October 9, 2013 | 0 Comments

What WorksFor the past six years, the pastoral council at St. Joseph in Red Wing has used a meeting process that moves decision-making closer to those who do the work.

The process mostly leaves the decision-making to six parish commissions — faith formation, worship, charity and justice, pastoral ministry, administration and finance or parish life — which are made up of people doing the ministry.

“That’s an idea out of the Second Vatican Council – subsidiarity. You keep the decision-making closest to the people doing the ministry.” said Father Thomas Kommers, who as pastor of St. Joseph supervises their work.

On the third Wednesday of each month, 35 to 40 parish leaders gather to share a meal. Those leaders all serve on one of the commissions.

After dinner, Father Kommers reads the Gospel for the coming Sunday and the group spends about 20 minutes talking about the story, sharing faith and reflecting on what that story means to them.

The group then divides into commissions that meet for 90 minutes.

“The commissions are tasked with providing the forward-looking, dreaming, planning part,” said Father Kommers. “Then, it’s committees under the commissions that do the work.”

The process is very efficient and cuts down on the number of meetings people have to attend. “We’ve got everybody in the building at one time,” he said.

At 9 p.m., representatives from each of the commissions come together to form the pastoral council, along with three or four at-large members, and meet for one hour.

“It’s all done in one night, it’s got hospitality, chatting and sharing a meal with each other, it’s got Scripture, it’s got content to it,” Father Kommers said. And then, if there needs to be other short meetings during the month, they’re not ­driven by vision as much as they are by practical things, he added.

“I felt it was an excellent way to break into smaller groups to address the many needs of a parish this size,” said Carol McNary, a former chair of the pastoral ministry commission. “More needs are addressed in a timely manner because there are more people to focus on and plan programs in specific areas that are then brought before the parish pastoral council for approval before implementation.”

Parishioners are invited to join the commission they are interested in.

“The beauty of the structure is that people are on commissions where they feel they can use God’s gifts to them in the best way possible,” McNary said.

“Everybody has something to contribute to the development of an idea, a process, a direction, a path to take,” Father Kommers said. “The more we can open that up to the gift of the Spirit that everybody has, the richer it is. That’s what we discovered.”

Share your thoughts

The Catholic Spirit is looking for story ideas for its “What Works” series.

We want to hear from parishes and schools about an idea, plan, project or program that is currently showing successful results. Submitters should explain the purpose of the initiative and outline the steps that led to success.

Our goal is to give parishes and schools an opportunity to share ideas for doing ministry more effectively and/or more efficiently.

• Email your story idea to:

• Or mail your idea to: “What Works,” c/o The Catholic Spirit, 244 Dayton Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.

Please include your name, parish and daytime telephone number.

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