Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
We had our first pastoral council meeting of the year on October 17th. My report to the parish has been delayed, because I wanted to give the Bishop bulletin space with his “Leading the Flock” column. I’m pretty determined that we all experience unity with our Bishop; and publishing his letters in the bulletin is one very concrete way to accomplish this.
The pastoral council has three-year term limits, with a couple people ending and starting terms each year. This year’s council members are: Bill Priest, Neil Webber, Ana Doctor, Tammy Clark, Mary Lichty, Michelle Dooley. Deacons are always welcome at the meetings as ex officio members, although their presence is not required to run the council. Below are highlights from our first meeting:
- We first discussed the purpose of the pastoral council. We distinguished it from the pastoral leadership team. The pastoral leadership team is basically my core staff, and we meet every week to look over all of the current pastoral objectives, as well as the standard operating objectives, covering every area of parish life. In contrast to the pastoral leadership team, the pastoral council serves as an advisory group for specific pastoral questions, pastoral ideas. The pastoral council is advisory, not making any decisions; rather, recommending to the pastor and/or providing wisdom.
- I presented what the pastoral leadership team had discussed in our most recent Amazing Parish webinar, i.e., the following questions and answers:
- Why do we exist? God has shown his mercy, and we are compelled to share his love (cf., 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
- How do we behave? We share responsibility, because we are on mission together. We lead by example, with leadership that guides by moral authority, rather than force. We are fueled by faith, with our strength coming from the Eucharist.
- What do we do? We worship God and save souls.
- How will we succeed? In addition to paying attention to all of the above, we will make sure our planning is seasonal and diverse, accommodating a rural community. We will guide formation and volunteerism from the heart of the Church.
- We will remember how we reach out to various segments of the Catholic community; i.e., Hispanics, Traditional Catholics devoted to the Latin Mass, etc.
- We reiterated our top current priority, which is to incorporate the three current foci of momentum: the diocesan strategic plan, the Discipleship Maker Index survey we conducted, and stepping more fully into our identity as “Divine Mercy Parish”.
- I showed the council the current scorecard that the pastoral leadership team is using, a system for considering all of the current pastoral objectives, as well as the standard operating objectives for the parish.
- One of our objectives is building Catholic family spiritual culture. Along these lines, I presented a prayer I wrote that parents can say for, and over, their children. It was suggested that the prayer is somewhat long, and as a result I’m going to write a shorter prayer that can be used on a daily basis. I envision the prayer I presented as something that could be used at least on Sundays. I will promulgate both prayers as soon as I get the shorter version finished. I have gotten some good feedback, also, from a number of couples to whom I sent the prayer. We also talked about the idea of a “family spirituality fair”. Would it be possible, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, to present a spirituality fair for families, with various booths or centers where families can see different examples of Catholic family spiritual culture? Perhaps, consider various scenes, such as a Christmas scene, a bedtime scene, a home chapel, a dinner time scene, a morning prayer scene, an Easter scene, a wedding anniversary scene, a baptismal anniversary scene, a center with various holy items that are to be in the home, such as statues, saints pictures, holy water font, etc. Then, what about a center that recommends pilgrimages to holy sites, within a reasonable travel time (Carey, Maria Stein, etc.)? What about a rosary-making workshop center? Also, perhaps a blessing station, so people could get blessed any items in the home that have never been blessed. This discussion was pretty rich with ideas. We would be looking to our parish families who do some of these things to run centers for us. One of the pastoral council members researched whether other parishes have conducted a similar fair. So we have some help from others who have done this.
So there are the highlights from our first pastoral council meeting of the year. In upcoming pastoral council meetings, I think we will be considering a couple of options for restoring the parish retreat in early Lent. I am considering the possibility of Dynamic Catholic’s “Welcome” retreat (which is a renewed version of Christ Renews His Parish), or ACTS (an acronym for Adoration, Community, Theology, Service). There are parishes in Fort Wayne and Toledo that run these retreats. Surely, they can be a resource for us.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,