Bishop unveils his pastoral plan
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last fall and winter, as you may recall, I conducted 10 listening sessions throughout the diocese in order to reflect together on three important questions: 1. As a diocese what do we do well? 2. What should we be doing better? 3. What should our pastoral priorities be for the next three to five years?
I am happy to say that these listening sessions were always engaging, encouraging, and informative. We received hundreds, if not thousands of responses; personally, by those who attended, and by those who responded in writing. I wish to thank everyone for this important contribution to our dynamic Catholic life.
From these responses, a dedicated group of lay men and women and priests from the Bishop’s Leadership Team, along with myself, began the long process of discernment, keeping before us in our own prayerful reading, Pope Francis’ Pastoral Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” and his call for the Church to become a community of missionary disciples. We set out, then, with the goal of formulating a new diocesan vision and mission statement; and to establish our priorities that will guide our ministry and life for the next three to five years. This process was often challenging, but in the end very fruitful. I am most happy to introduce to the diocese the results of our work.
Above, you will find the plan announcing the vision, mission, and priorities. I invite all of our priests and laity to a prayerful reflection on this document, especially every parish, finance, pastoral, stewardship and school council, and all our boards governing the current ministries of our diocese. You will notice, of course, that it is not a detailed pastoral plan. It is my hope and expectation that each parish, school, and institution will take this vision, mission and priorities and develop their own pastoral plan in light of their local context and concerns. This document also in no way sets aside all the other good and fruitful ministries of our diocese, but hopefully places them in a new and more dynamic framework. The goal is to transform ourselves into an evangelizing diocese to build the Kingdom of God here in this part of the Church.
This fall I will begin my work with a newly established Diocesan Pastoral Council to keep our vision, mission and priorities always before us in our planning. We have also set aside additional resources in our diocesan budget to provide assistance to our parishes, schools and ministries to help us move from the prevailing mindset of maintenance to a dynamic mindset of mission. More details about this resource will be forthcoming in the next months. I will be writing further reflections on each point of the vision, mission and priorities in the weeks ahead in order to provide my own thoughts as we respond to the Lord’s invitation to cast our nets into the deep waters of our culture and times.
The inspiration from Scripture for this document comes from John 10:10. “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” The inspiration from Tradition comes from a quote attributed to St. Irenaeus who said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” It is my hope and prayer that together we will all work to becoming a diocese “fully alive” in Christ, forming new disciples, inviting everyone to a total stewardship way of life and renewing parish and family life by reclaiming Sunday as the Day of the Lord.
Thank you and God bless you all.
-Bishop Carl A. Kemme