Parish clusters to begin pastoral planning


The Diocese of Sioux City has now “worked through the various levels of consultation and drafts of the design of Ministry 2025,” said Father Brent Lingle, director of pastoral planning.

“The next part of the process is for the parish clusters to do a local pastoral plan,” said the priest. “This will consist of a series of meetings with the clergy and lay leadership of the parishes and oratories of the proposed cluster. This will be guided by a facilitator who will be trained in the pastoral planning process.”

Dennis Cheesebrow, founder of Team Works International, added the parish cluster pastoral planning is when the pastor, lay leaders and staff of the parishes develop a local pastoral plan about “how they propose to make the vision and goals of Ministry 2025 become a reality in the local church.”

“It is also a time to collaborate, leverage parish and community strengths, as well as address outstanding pastoral needs and operational challenges where they exist,” he said.

Considering areas, goals

Each cluster will review the Ministry 2025 plan of the Diocese of Sioux City, which “includes the rationale for the process, key data and insights as well as the specific goals that Bishop (Walker) Nickless has laid out for the diocese,” explained Father Lingle.

The clusters will consider the particular areas and goals for each category:

1) Quality of and participation in liturgy and the sacraments.

2) Stewardship of time, talent and treasure.

3) Quality of and participation in faith formation of the parish.

4) Welcoming, honoring and integration of all parishioners, parish story and culture.

5) Engagement and effectiveness of parish directors, finance council and pastoral council.

“This will also include coming up with a functional Mass schedule based on the criteria set out in Ministry 2025, parish staffing and personnel needs and other ministry opportunities and challenges,” said Father Lingle. “Many of the proposed clusters will begin to meet in March after the facilitator training has taken place.”

The parishes in the proposed Carroll area parish will begin the process after priest personnel assignments take effect on June 27, noted the director of pastoral planning.

At local level

“The pastoral planning process at the local level will take place over a series of meetings and over the course of several months,” said Father Lingle.

Each cluster will develop a plan that will include:

1) Affirmation of or proposed refinement of parishes, oratories and closed sites for review and approval by the bishop.

2) Proposed liturgy schedule for weekends and weekdays for review and approval by the bishop.

3) A proposed three-year pastoral plan describing the various elements in the pastoral planning guidebook, which include categories under vibrant and responsible diocesan operations, vibrant and engaging parish sacramental life and ministries and healthy, happy and holy priests, deacons and religious.

4) Inventory of sacred and secular goods for each of the parishes.

5) Develop a proposal for a unified structure for parish finance council (one for each active parish in the cluster), pastoral council for each cluster, staffing and ministry, finances and assets, with a short and long range financial model for the cluster as well as support/obligations for Catholic school systems where applicable, perpetual care of Catholic cemeteries and a plan for the proposed use and care of oratories.

During the cluster phase, Cheesebrow said, the parishioners should expect “a facilitated process of learning, prayer, discussions and ownership of the local church in partnership with pastor and staff with an outcome of making Ministry 2025 come alive in one’s parish.”

“It may also be a time of grief and loss, as well as opportunity and growth,” he said. “Parishioners will need to both speak and listen, to pray for themselves and their parishes, to understand individual interests and needs in developing a pastoral plan that addresses the shared interests and needs.”

Submit plans for review

“When these meetings have concluded the cluster will submit their pastoral plan for review and approval to the bishop,” said Father Lingle. “For most clusters this will happen in July of 2017. Carroll County will be starting their process later, so their plan will likely be submitted in late fall of 2017 or by January of 2018, with implementation to happen after the plan is approved.”

This will be the final phase of planning before implementation of Ministry 2025. Father Lingle said it will be important for parishes “to come together to collaborate and develop the best possible pastoral plan for their cluster.”

“There are a lot of details that need to be looked at and worked out and this can really only happen at the local level of the parish clusters in the diocese,” said Father Lingle. “This gives the clergy and laity a chance to work together in their cluster to meet the ministry and sacramental needs of the people in their area. This also allows for local input in shaping and determining the final design of the plan and ministry.”

The priest hopes parishioners will realize they are stronger united with other parishes in a cluster than they are on their own.

“The collaboration that can take place among parishes in a cluster can lead to revitalized liturgies and ministries,” said Father Lingle. “I also hope that they further their understanding of the need to do this sort of intense pastoral planning across the diocese.”

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