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

Eastern Washington Catholics show progress on Know, Love & Serve pastoral planning process

the Inland Register

(From the February 20 , 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

January and February are key months for the success of the Know, Love & Serve pastoral planning process that the diocese has set before itself.

After months of preparation, every parish in the diocese is asked to engage in a two-fold listening process called “Appreciative Inquiry” during the first two months of 2014.

Appreciative Inquiry “differs significantly from a more popular approach to pastoral planning which identifies what’s wrong with a parish and sets out to fix it,” said Father Pat Kerst, chairman of the KLS organizing committee. “True to the inner dynamics of our Catholic faith, we need to value what God’s saving presence has brought forth in our midst and to listen prayerfully and attentively to what the Spirit is prompting us to do.

“To engage in this effort during the course of the diocese’s centennial year is a unique opportunity and blessing,” he said. As priests and parish delegates engage more members of the faithful in the project, “the more fruitful will be its outcome.”

In addition to his work with the KLS organizing committee, Father Kerst is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, and St. Joseph Parish, Rockford.

The Appreciative Inquiry approach was selected by the priests of the Diocese at their annual Presbyteral Assembly in September 2012.

In some fashion during January and February – either by survey, or town-hall types of meetings, or a combination of both methods – parishioners will be asked to address two facets of their parish life:

• The strengths of the parish: How has its witness to the Faith flourished and been made most manifest?
• Given the parish’s history of service and celebration, where is the Holy Spirit leading the parish community? What are the parish’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations?

Each parish is to submit a summary report of its listening and dreaming efforts to Bishop Cupich by March 1. At the same time, the parish is encouraged to use the results of its reflections to address its own pastoral situation.

To assure an element of objectivity, the summary reports will be collated and organized according to themes or points of consideration by Mark Mogilka, director of the Stewardship and Pastoral Services Office of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., who has been mentoring the diocese’s KLS process for the past year.

Several parishes already have submitted a summary report to the Bishop. Some have been accompanied by notes. One such note reads: “We’re a pretty small parish, but we are a part of the diocese. We appreciate the fact that someone has given us a listening ear.”

Writes another, “Our KLS team is excited about where this process may be leading us as a diocese. Sure hope all this work doesn’t just collect dust on a shelf somewhere!”

The reflections of the parishes will be presented at a special leadership summit scheduled for April 11-12 at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. Mogilka will be present to facilitate the two-day event, which will result in the presentation of a slate of recommended pastoral priorities to Bishop Cupich. Participants also will present the bishop with recommended strategies for accomplishing the ministerial priorities, or goals, they have recommended.

In turn, Bishop Cupich will use the recommendations as significant input in the composition of a pastoral letter which he will mail to every household in the diocese sometime in the month of June. The letter will promulgate a set of goals for every parish to address in some fashion over the next five years.

The KLS organizing committee currently is in the process of selecting the 50 participants who will engage in the Leadership Summit. Each of the Diocese’s seven Presbyteral Council regions will identify one priest and two laity. The committee will select an additional 20 members. Bishop Cupich will identify the final nine members in order to assure a balance of age, ethnicity, background and experience in church life.

Said Father Kerst, “the participants in the Leadership Summit are selected on the basis of their experience in the life of the local Church as well as their ability to work with the group for the sake of the common good. They will not be representatives of constituencies. The challenge of the Leadership Summit is to be faithful to what the People of God have expressed in the summary reports from the parishes, to bring it into focus, and to start giving it practical shape.”

To that end, Father Kerst encouraged frequent and fervent prayer for the success of the diocese’s pastoral planning effort.

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