Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Spokane Diocese parishes prepare for year-long pastoral planning process; kickoff Sept. 27

the Inland Register

(From the September 19, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

After nearly a year of dialogue and preparation, every parish in the Diocese of Spokane is about to engage in a year-long pastoral planning initiative titled “Know, Love & Serve.”

The effort’s title is a subtle reference to the traditional answer to a core catechetical question about the purpose of God’s creation of humankind. Generations of Catholics have learned, by heart, that we are “to know, love and serve Him in this world and to be with Him in the next.”

The title intentionally moves the focus of pastoral planning away from problem-solving to a collaborative effort in building God’s Kingdom.

Specially-selected Parish Leadership Teams will gather at Spokane’s Red Lion Inn at the Park on Friday, Sept. 27, for an afternoon-long information session about the implementation of the Know, Love & Serve process in their parishes, or, in some instances, cluster of parishes. Each parish is free to compose its own team. Many of the parish teams will be comprised of pastor, parochial vicars, deacons, chairpersons of the pastoral councils, school principals, and key laity.

One member of each team is to be identified as the “parish delegate.” That individual will have the responsibility for serving as parish contact person, and also for facilitating the process at the parish level.

Bishop Cupich summoned the diocese to commit its energy and resources to a pastoral planning initiative in a letter sent to all pastors June 30, 2013. The letter also was published in the bishop’s column in the July issue of the Inland Register. Although Bishop Cupich has invited other Catholic entities to provide input to the pastoral planning process, the primary focus of the process will be the enhancement of parish life and ministry.

In the course of their deliberations last year, both the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Presbyteral (Priests) Council identified pastoral planning as a primary need to be addressed if the diocese is to move forward and revitalize its mission in its post-bankruptcy era. Both councils have urged the bishop to lead the diocese in some form of pastoral planning.

A variety of definitions of pastoral planning could be offered related to the need for the Church at the diocesan or parochial level to marshal its untapped resources in anticipation of an open-ended future. The traditional approach to planning normally engages some form of analysis of the situation and the setting of goals and related objectives and strategies oriented toward their achievement. Our experience as a faith community – which is guided by the Spirit and sent on a mission of evangelization – calls for a more people-engaging process.

– Parish Leadership Resource Manual

In making his public announcement of the planning initiative, the bishop invited all the faithful in the diocese to “begin a conversation among yourselves about the input you would like to offer. There will be several occasions this fall to complete surveys and to engage parishioners in meetings, but for now I invite you to simply consider in your conversations and personal reflections what would you like our Church, our faith communities, to look like in the decades ahead.

“How can we better witness to Christ as we reach out in service to others and remain faithful to a faith that is ever ancient and ever new?” the bishop wrote.

“It has become clear to me that people are ready to move forward with new plans for the future. That impulse is even more timely, given the fact that we will mark our centennial as a diocese this year,” he said.

Overall Goals of Pastoral Planning

• To engage the parishes of the Diocese of Spokane in a process of prayerful reflection about where they, as the People of God, have been at their best in living the Gospel (Discovery).
• To discern, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what God might be asking parish faith communities to become (Dream).
• To create a pastoral vision or plan for the Diocese of Spokane which engages the People of God in their respective parishes during the next five years in the wise and effective use of the resources of our faith community in the mission of the Church.
• To be blessed with an inspiring and strengthening experience of being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Cupich has appointed a committee to organize and coordinate the planning process.

Father Patrick Kerst, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, and St. Joseph Parish, Rockford, chairs the committee. Other committee members are Herb Dierks, CEO of Tour Factory; Sue Harmon, Pastoral Associate at St. Augustine Parish, Spokane; Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Judith Nilles, secretary for Spokane Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services; and Father Miguel Mejia, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Cheney. Father Mike Savelesky, the diocese’s Moderator of the Curia, provides staff support.

Mark Mogilka, Director of Stewardship and Pastoral Services, Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., will serve as special consultant to the process. Mogilka is experienced in assisting multiple dioceses with pastoral planning initiatives.

At their annual assembly in 2012, Mogilka engaged the priests of the diocese in two-day workshop on pastoral planning. During that workshop, the priests as a body affirmed the need for a pastoral planning process and identified the “Appreciative Inquiry” as its primary mode of application.

The Appreciative Inquiry process differs from a popular method of pastoral planning which simply identifies needs and constructs goals and strategies to meet them. Instead, the Appreciative Inquiry model leads parishes in a process which first identifies their strengths, and then discerns where the Holy Spirit is leading the faith community in light of those strengths.

Mogilka will explain the methodology to the participants in the Sept. 27 workshop and give pointers on how to carry it out successfully in the parish environment. Parishes will be given significant flexibility in implementing the method. Whatever their chosen application of Appreciative Inquiry, Bishop Cupich has asked each parish to submit to him a summary report of the results of its pastoral planning effort by March 1, 2014. The reports as well as input from other Catholic entities will be studied and discussed at a Leadership Summit meeting scheduled for April 11-12, 2014, at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. Participants in the Leadership Summit will be identified beforehand by the Know, Love & Serve coordinating committee.

By the time the participants leave the Leadership Summit, a slate of recommended diocesan goals will be submitted to Bishop Cupich. In turn, the bishop will give prayerful consideration to the goals, perhaps identify a few goals of his own, and then write a pastoral letter which will be mailed to every Catholic household in the diocese in June 2014. The letter will identity a slate of diocesan goals for all parishes and other Catholic entities to address over the course of the following five years. Each year thereafter, the parish will be responsible for submitting a progress report to the bishop.

In order to enhance the implementation of the diocesan goals, the Know, Love & Serve coordinating committee already is laying the groundwork for an annual conference for parish leaders which will address one or more of the key elements of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.

(For more information, email: knowloveserve@dioceseofspokane.org)


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