Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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With KLS Leadership Summit, diocese takes major step forward in creation of pastoral plan
the Inland Register
(From the May 15, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)
The Know Love and Serve Leadership Summit brought together 50 Eastern Washington Catholics, laity and clergy, for two days of deliberation last month. (IR photo courtesy of Jeanette Benson)
With broad smiles and a joyful clip to their pace, 50 participants from the diocese’s Know, Love & Serve (KLS) Leadership Summit packed away their felt markers, note pads, stacks of butcher-paper notes and diagrams and returned to their home parishes. For two days – April 11-12 – they had come together at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in Spokane for prayer, study, listening, and discussion in an effort to assist Bishop Cupich in the creation of a pastoral plan for the diocese as it enters its second century. In departing after completing their heavy task, each participant knew that, in many ways, the real work had just begun.
The summit was the culmination of more than a year of preparation, part of the KLS pastoral planning initiative which engaged every parish and many Catholic entities in the diocese. All were charged with assessing their strengths and discerning their future paths under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The overall process was based on “Appreciative Inquiry” and produced nearly 100 summary reports from parishes and Catholic groups. All these materials were the focus of consideration on the part of the participants at the summit.
As part of the preparation for their two-day collaborative effort, participants were asked to read and study Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
Facilitating the effort was Mark Mogilka, director of Stewardship and Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis. Mogilka has been working with Bishop Cupich, the priests of the diocese, and a KLS organizing committee for the past two years in preparation for this event.
Describing it as “an inspiring movement of the Spirit which will enrich the life and ministry of the diocese for years to come,” Bishop Cupich concluded the Summit with words of gratitude and promise. “Your efforts these past two days have contributed to the renewal of our diocese and a revitalization and refocusing of our resources and energies,” the bishop told the participants.
“I clearly hear your concern that these collective efforts at pastoral planning will not become just another document which sits on a shelf or is filed in a drawer. Your work is far too important for that to happen to it,” said Bishop Cupich. “Your insights, input and recommendations definitely are going to give shape to a renewed sense of mission to the Church in our diocese. You have done nothing less than help the diocese take its first steps into our second century.”
Bishop Cupich told the participants that this summer he will publish a pastoral letter based on the work of the Leadership Summit. That document will set forth goals and action plans for all the parishes and Catholic entities in the diocese to implement over the next five years. The bishop indicated that he will mail a copy of the pastoral letter to all the Catholic households in the diocese in mid-September.
“We are the diocese,” the bishop said, echoing the theme of the Annual Catholic Appeal the past two years. He called for a unity of effort and a continuing prayerful openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In preparation for writing his pastoral letter, Bishop Cupich will study the recommendations reached by the conclusion of the Leadership Summit. The substance of those recommendations will be reflected in the letter, serving as a “guiding light for the pathway God is opening for us. By being faithful to God’s call, we will be able to put behind us the confusion and heartache of the past few years, and begin writing a new chapter in the diocese’s history.” The bishop thanked the participants for showing respect and appreciation for “the faith of those who have walked before us, and for a spirited embrace of what lies ahead in the years to come.”
After two days of studying summary reports, listening to each other, and prayerfully discerning the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the participants settled upon eight major areas of focus.
• Fostering Community.
Each focus area was accompanied by specific action items for both the parishes and the diocese, all of which the bishop will take into consideration.
“In themselves, the eight areas appear to be rather generic,” said Father Pat Kerst, chairman of the KLS coordinating committee. “We did not expect to reinvent the nature of the Church during our two days together. The impact of our work will be found in the way the clergy and other leaders in the diocese commit themselves in the months and years ahead to the implementation of the pastoral plan which Bishop Cupich will set before us.
“Working from the same page, as it were, will itself be a focused blessing for our local Church,” said Father Kerst. “It took a lot of energy to put the KLS process together, but the hard work lies ahead in the parishes of the diocese.”
Participants in the Leadership Summit included a priest and two lay persons selected from each of the diocese’s seven pastoral regions. An additional 19 others were selected by the organizing committee in consultation with Bishop Cupich.
The composition of the group was intentionally designed to reflect the reality of the diocese and to provide diversity among the participants in terms of ministry experience, ethnic diversity, gender and age.
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