By KATIE BORKOWSKI
Another step was taken in the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Planning process with meetings in each of the four deaneries.
“I think that the four meetings were very successful,” said Father Brent Lingle, director of pastoral planning for the diocese. “The goal of the meetings was to present the information and data in each of the four proposed deaneries and give the proposed parish clusters time to begin to talk with each other, to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the plan and offer feedback.”
He thought the meetings took place “in a spirit of collegiality and a willingness to work together to make Ministry 2025 the best pastoral plan for the Diocese of Sioux City.”
Meetings were held at St. Lawrence in Carroll in the Southeast Deanery, St. Cecelia in Algona in the Northeast Deanery, Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City in the Southwest Deanery and All Saints-St. Joseph in Le Mars in the Northwest Deanery.
There were representatives from each parish at the meetings – pastors, deacons, representative from the finance council, representative from the parish council, parish lay directors and school and school board representatives.
The evenings began with a holy half hour of adoration and prayer in the church led by Bishop Walker Nickless. Following adoration, the meeting started with The Prayer for Pastoral Planning and a light meal.
“I think it is significant that we started with prayer this evening because this whole planning process is built on prayer,” said the bishop. “As I was kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament tonight, I started thinking about all my predecessors as bishops here in the diocese and all they have done. I thought about our ancestors in the faith. The people who built our churches, formed our first parishes.”
The parish representatives had a chance to learn about the background and development of Ministry 2025. Father Lingle pointed out this was an opportunity “to study and look at the demographics and sacramental data in our parishes and to allow each of the cluster leadership teams to begin to work together to offer feedback.”
Dennis Cheesebrow, founder of Team Works International, presented deanery specific information and data to the parish representatives at each meeting. He emphasized that every time there has been consultation throughout the process, the draft plan has been modified.
“When we first started out, I said to the bishop, ‘Don’t do consultation if you are not willing to listen,’” said Cheesebrow. “The purpose of consultation is to bring wisdom and knowledge into the process from parish leaders and parishioners as a whole and try to create a plan.”
The guidebook given to the representatives laid out the current deanery level process and information that will be helpful throughout the process.
“When you walk out of here this evening, you should not only understand this but be able to help explain it to others,” said Cheesebrow. “A sound pastoral plan in the end by 2025 will be determined more about how parishes come together in their pastoral planning than the number of parishes and oratories.”
The plan, he insisted, isn’t just about parishes, clusters and schools.
“It is about enlivening and energizing parishes and schools while you utilize those resources,” said Cheesebrow.
After all the data and demographics were presented, the parish teams were given time to put their questions down on paper along with their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the Ministry 2025 plan.
“While the parish leadership teams arrived with varying emotions of sadness, anger, relief, among other feelings, you could feel the energy level increase in the room and the teams really start to dialogue and work together to come up with the best recommendations to Ministry 2025,” said Father Lingle. “As we said at the deanery meetings, it is impossible for us to know every particular detail or unique scenario that exists in the parishes throughout the diocese.”
Continuing to plan
After each of the four meetings, the cluster leadership teams walked away with plans to continue to meet and offer feedback by the June 1 deadline, noted Father Lingle.
“Having never done this before, I was not sure what to expect,” said the director of pastoral planning. “Our partners with Team Works International were also impressed by the positive nature of the meetings and the spirit of collegiality among our parish leadership team.”
The meetings, Father Lingle explained, passed his expectations and he is looking forward “to feedback that we will receive that will help us to further refine and make Ministry 2025 a strong pastoral plan for our diocese and our parishes.”
“I know that this process is not easy for many involved, especially those places that are proposed to go to oratory status,” he acknowledged. “I am thankful to have had these meetings because as I said from the beginning, the feedback and input from our parish lay leadership and laity throughout the diocese is an integral aspect of making Ministry 2025 successful.”
As the process moves forward, the priest reminded that “we have to continue to keep the process in prayer and work together to build the kingdom of God here in the Diocese of Sioux City.”
More information about Ministry 2025 can be found on the diocesan website at www.scdiocese.org and on The Catholic Globe website at www.catholicglobe.org.