Since communication is one of the age-old challenges of the human experience, especially as Church, I wish to speak to the two-fold nature of the present strategic planning efforts currently underway in the diocese.

The better known phase of the strategic planning is just that, we are currently working hard as a diocese to develop our next strategic pastoral plan.  I wrote a Vision Statement to lead this effort.  Then, there were parish listening sessions followed most recently by a round of deanery listening sessions.  This phase of the planning is going quite well.  In fact, it is clearly challenging people to think creatively and prayerfully about our ministry and presence around the diocese if the letters I am receiving and the things I am hearing at listening sessions are any indication.

Perhaps the lesser known component of this planning is what we are calling a Task Force on Pastoral Leadership.  This group of mostly lay leaders from around the diocese has been working hard the past two months putting a plan together to help us study and determine the best distribution of our priests and the best pairing of parishes and missions.  This Task Force on Pastoral Leadership will also study if it is possible to look at other pastoral leadership models in our diocese.  Finally, they will challenge us to review our present sacramental schedule, meaning primarily, Mass and Reconciliation schedules. 

Presently, the Task Force is asking all parishes and missions to complete a rather comprehensive survey.  Then, the Task Force will also hold a round of Parish and Deanery Listening sessions.  So, the next time you hear there will be a parish listening session or another deanery listening session, please understand that these are a part of the long-term strategic planning process, but different from those just completed this fall.  So, please, make sure you attend these meetings as well.  Every one’s input is important and desired.

Such planning is important, but it also requires a lot of effort and good will, especially from our priests, deacons, and parish staffs.  I appreciate very much their “extra effort” at this time, as I understand the energy this requires on top of everything else that goes on day-to-day in the parish.  I know to plan additional meetings and complete surveys is a challenge, but I firmly believe the end result will be well worth the effort.  Thanks to everyone for going the extra mile in these days to provide for the future needs of our Church.  God will surely bless our work!