By KATIE BORKOWSKI
Since Ministry 2025 was made public in February, a lot has happened, but the process is far from over.
In April, the diocese hosted four meetings in each of the proposed deaneries with parish leadership to present all of the information and provide an opportunity, as well as a forum, for discussion and feedback.
“When those meetings were concluded, many of the proposed parish clusters continued to meet and offered feedback and suggestions by June 1,” said Father Brent Lingle, director of worship and director of pastoral planning for the diocese. “This has been successful in that it has brought people together and fostered good discussion about the future of our parishes and diocese.”
He acknowledged this is “not an easy process. It involves pain, sadness, grief, new ways of thinking and living out our Catholic faith.”
“One thing that the process has made clear is that we cannot do nothing,” said Father Lingle. “The decline in the number of active priests available for ministry and the shrinking of the population in northwest Iowa is forcing us to make tough decisions now that will set us up for a more stable future.”
The feedback phase ended on June 1 and the diocese is now working to assimilate all of those items for consideration by the Pastoral Planning Committee.
“We are currently working out a date for the committee to meet and consider how the feedback can be incorporated into the draft plan of Ministry 2025,” said Father Lingle. “Due to scheduling conflicts, this meeting will likely take place in September. After that meeting we will once again publish the maps and proposed clusters. Later this fall, the parish clusters will begin working on their pastoral plans at the local level.”
The priest noted this will be completed and ready for implementation in the summer of 2017.
“It (the process) is going well in terms of leadership for the bishop and Father Lingle, communications, deanery meetings and the subsequent feedback on strengths, concerns and ideas for improvement of the draft design of parishes and schools,” said Dennis Cheesebrow, founder of TeamWorks International, Inc., and PartnersEdge, LLC. “The priests and parish leaders who participated in the deanery meetings are to be congratulated and recognized for faithful leadership and collaboration in service to the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Sioux City.”
He pointed out the degree of change for the plan is yet to be determined “as the feedback from the deanery meetings and the following month are now being processed.”
Already in motion
Though the bulk of the Ministry 2025 plan will take place next summer, there are parts of the plan that are going into effect on Aug. 1.
“As many are aware, priest personnel needs required us to move forward with parts of the plan already this summer,” said Father Lingle.
The diocese is moving forward with the plan for the Cathedral of the Epiphany, St. Joseph and St. Boniface in Sioux City as well as with Holy Trinity in Fort Dodge.
“There should be little impact on the rest of the proposed plan,” Father Lingle said. “We have learned some useful things in working with these parishes that will help us as we move forward with the rest of the diocese.”
Keep in mind
As the process continues, Cheesebrow wanted to remind parishioners to pray for the diocese, the priests and deacons, parish leadership and the faithful. He added collaboration and listening as the process shifts to Parish Pastoral Planning in the fall and winter is important.
Cheesebrow encouraged patience and care for the “parishioners and communities through the process of change, transition and loss.”
“It is important that people continue to be informed about the process and that they seek the most current information that we post on the diocesan website,” said Father Lingle. “False information and rumors only create more problems and undue anxiety. It is also important to be patient. The process takes time for all the feedback to be considered and incorporated and many people are anxious to know what the final plan will look like.”
For continued updates on the Ministry 2025 plan, visit the Diocese of Sioux City website at www.scdiocese.org.