By RENEE WEBB
As the Diocese of Sioux City moves forward with Ministry 2025 pastoral planning, the next major focus will be on the cluster phase of pastoral planning.
Just as the diocesan-wide pastoral planning came up with a larger-scale plan based on demographics and data from across the diocese, Father Brent Lingle said clusters will do their own pastoral plans specific to their area. They will look at demographics from the U.S. Census, sacramental data and parish ministries from their local level “to come up with a plan that guides ministry and pastoral activity in that particular parish cluster over the course of the next three years.”
This plan, he noted, will include Mass schedules, parish ministries, parish staff, finance councils and pastoral councils.
“This is a complicated process that will take place over a course of several meetings,” noted Father Lingle, who is diocesan director of pastoral planning. “Our first step will be to train facilitators. We will spend the next month recruiting about four facilitators from each of the deaneries. That will include a mix of clergy and laity.”
Each facilitator will go through a formal training on how to use the data, a pastoral planning guidebook and other components that will go into helping clusters establish a pastoral plan. They will also be trained in how to facilitate the meetings. Facilitators will be assigned to a cluster to guide the process.
“The facilitator training should happen in early March,” Father Lingle said. “Meetings will be held in parish clusters in March, April, May and June.” He anticipates clusters will hold about four meetings; however, some may not need that many and some may need more.
He pointed out that facilitators will be assigned to a cluster.
“The facilitator isn’t there to tell them what to do. They are there to guide the process and make sure the cluster comes up with the best possible outcome and pastoral plan that they can,” Father Lingle said.
The clusters will come up with a written pastoral plan that will get submitted to Bishop Walker Nickless’ office. Each plan will be reviewed to ensure it includes the necessary components and meets the objectives of Ministry 2025.
“The bishop will approve the plans and from that point those plans will go into effect in the clusters,” said Father Lingle. “They will move into new Mass schedules and other new realities.”
Some clusters, he anticipated, will create plans quickly because they may not have as much change as others. In those cases, clusters can submit their plans early to the bishop and could move into implementation early.
“We look to begin implementation of most of these pastoral plans in August and September,” said Father Lingle, who noted Carroll County will be the exception. Most likely, they will not begin creating their pastoral plan until August, after priest assignments have been made.