Last week we had our first follow-up meeting to the Amazing Parish Conference in Atlanta. Alan Badia of the diocesan Parish Life and Evangelization Department led the meeting; and three other parish leadership teams from the area were in attendance: Edgerton-Hicksville, St. John’s Defiance, St. Charles Lima. Alan brought a few other Pastoral Center members, so that they could sit in and help with each parish’s leadership discussion. Each parish’s pastoral leadership team tried to take one more step of follow-up for the Amazing Parish effort.
As a follow-up, our pastoral leadership team (comprised of the parish office staff and principal, with auxiliary members being our future volunteer life coordinators from each campus) discussed what the Amazing Parish organizers call the “parish scorecard”, which we will use for our weekly leadership team meetings. We discussed and listed the standard operating objectives we want to review at each meeting: Sunday Experience (music, hospitality, homily), Faith formation, Finances/Stewardship, Plant Maintenance, Volunteer Life, Communication, Staff Model/Organization, Outreach/Evangelism, School.
Next, we discussed the “overall thematic goal” we will focus on for the next while: establishing an “amazing parish” foundation. This means setting in place those basics that were discussed as vitally important for a thriving parish: Researching and Planning for Alpha (an outreach effort), Analyzing Hospitality, Finding One Set of Volunteer Organizers for Paulding Campus, Continuing to Support and Guide Music, Organizing Volunteer Life Structure, and Establishing the Schedule of Leadership Meetings. All of the above topics get “scored” each time, based on whether they have made great progress (green light), moderate progress (yellow light) or no progress (red light). It truly was the case that the team returned from the Amazing Parish Conference with a lot of confirmation that the organizing we have been doing at our parish for the last couple of years has really been worthwhile. And the Amazing Parish Conference could not have come at a better time. Everything discussed and promoted seemed so right for our parish at this time.
The pastoral council will continue to be a “think tank” for all of these areas. Pastoral council input will help to nourish leadership team meetings. At our next pastoral council meeting I plan to present the scorecard in greater detail, and to discuss ALPHA a bit more.
On another note, we have been doing more research into the possibility of a youth choir. Tori Bradford and Melissa Martinez approached me some months ago to express interest in helping out with a youth choir. With a desire to give them a good foundation and vision, I asked them to visit St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, Illinois. That parish has two youth choirs, and the Canons of St. John Cantius exist to promote the best liturgy, Extraordinary Form (Latin) or Ordinary Form (English, Vatican II). Tori and Melissa brought back some great information, covering everything from how to run a practice to specific resources for songs. Suffice it to say that I’m thinking about everything I heard from them. And I will continue to “rummage around” to learn more and see what doors the Lord opens to give us a good start. One of the huge difficulties with getting a youth choir off the ground is simply solidifying the commitment of those people who would be members. Parents really have to desire this and appreciate it. There would have to be practice times; although I would want to make them very reasonable. Perhaps a practice time the Saturday morning before the youth choir would serve; and then another practice time one hour before the actual Mass. In general, I can say that I’m pretty convinced that a high priority is to aim for the greatest beauty. I’m hoping that if we aim high enough with vocal and musical training integrated into the practices, resulting in true beauty at the Masses, families could appreciate the value of supporting the youth choir. Even if it means a potential youth choir can only sing one or two songs for a while at Masses, the repertoire could build to become something more. Some of this is the wisdom we gleaned from the visit to Chicago. I’m asking Our Lady and St. Cecilia to intervene and guide us in this effort.
Have a blessed Easter Season!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,