Well, the 2011 January Institute is now “in the books” and a part of history.  For a number of reasons, it will prove to be a significant part of our history!

We had a record attendance for this year’s institute.  People came with open hearts and open minds, ready to “get to work” on the second phase of outlining our diocesan strategic pastoral plan.

The first evening began with Mass at the Cathedral.  This was, by my estimation, one of the great benefits and blessings of this week, having the diocese fully represented in the See City, and full diocesan representation for three Masses in the beautifully restored Cathedral of St. Mary.  Our liturgies were grace-filled, Spirit-driven celebrations, and proved to be a true “confirmation” that our strategic plan is on the right track, and that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in the Diocese of Cheyenne!

Our first evening session, we received a summary report of the analysis of the feedback received in the first phase.  The feedback was a result of response to the Vision Statement released in late August. That feedback was gleened through personal interviews, parish and deanery listening sessions.  In this analysis, we learned that there is broad support for the stated priorities, and that people are excited about the potential that lies ahead of us, and was honest about the challenges.

The rest of our time together was spent in breakout sessions around each of the six priorities: 1. Renewed focus on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. 2. New Evangelization  3.  Catechesis  4.  Youth & Young Adults  5.  Family Life & Vocations  6.  Stewardship.  Incorporated into these priorities are the two essential elements of Hispanic Ministry and Social Justice.

During the final session this morning, we received reports from each of the priority task forces.  Many great ideas have surfaced, which now go to the designated task force for refining.  After their meetings, a draft of the strategic plan will be shared once again for broad feedback, with the goal of promulgating the completed plan July 1, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

All I can say is, there was great energy,  enthusiasm, and excitement present and generated during these past few days.  I am growing more and more confident that the “end product” will not only be something practical to implement at the parish level (which is where the majority of the faith life is lived), but also  something that will truly renew us in our faith life, and expand our faith to touch many others.

Thanks to all who had a hand in the planning of this week’s institute, to all who participated, and especially to our Providential and Loving God, Whose work this is!