Bishop Christensen explains parish assessment launch
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|Dear Faithful of the Diocese of Superior,|
As many of you already know, three years ago I established a Vitality of Parishes Committee as part of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. The purpose of the Vitality of Parishes Committee was to review characteristics for parish viability. A “vital parish” was defined as one having the liturgical, programmatic, educational, financial and outreach wherewithal to carry out its proper mission as defined in paragraph 2179 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”.
One of the committee’s main tasks was to develop a tool that each parish in the Diocese of Superior could utilize to assess its vitality by identifying areas of strength to celebrate and areas that need further attention while the parish continues to live out its mission, vision and values that continually point to the mandates of the Gospel.
The tool drafted by the committee has been reviewed by: the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Presbyteral Council, the Deans, diocesan staff and myself. I also requested review of the draft by an outside source with specific expertise in developing these types of assessments. After these reviews, the proposed tool was piloted in a cluster of four parishes. I am pleased to announce that a final copy of the tool is now being implemented in all parishes throughout the Diocese of Superior.
The Catholic Diocese of Superior Parish Self-Assessment provides the lay faithful of the local parish, through the efforts of various local parish councils and committees, the opportunity to review the life of the local parish in five major areas: 1) Parish Values, Membership and Management, 2) Parish Liturgy and Sacraments, 3) Catholic Faith Formation, 4) Stewardship. and 5) Parish Finances and Facilities. A final section of the assessment summarizes the assessment, solicits insights from the pastoral leader and asks parish leadership to set goals for future local pastoral planning.
The Diocese of Superior will use the parish self-assessments to help determine how best we can foster both parish and diocesan vitality. This parish self-assessment is NOT intended for diocesan use in determining the closing of any parishes. It is intended to help parishes take a healthy, honest look at their current parish life and to revitalize the parish communities that currently exist as they look to the future.
In order to help each parish utilize the Diocese of Superior Parish Self-Assessment most effectively and efficiently, diocesan staff have provided a series of orientations and trainings to your local pastoral leader as well as parish trustees, council and committee members. As your parish undertakes this self-assessment, leadership members named above may be asking questions of a wide variety of parishioners to determine their most accurate response when reporting to the diocese. You will be getting updates from them on the local process in a variety of ways as you look to the future. It is my expectation that the final reporting on this process will be submitted to the Diocese no later than June 30. Once individual parish reports have been received at the diocese, each parish will receive a response from the Diocese to continue to support them on their journey to celebrating the wonderful things that are already happening and identifying opportunities for growth and revitalization where needed.
I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank all who helped develop the Diocese of Superior Parish Self-Assessment, especially the members of the Vitality of Parishes Committee – Fr. Dennis Mullen, Fr. Gerald Hagen, Deacon John Grek, Deacon Tom Weiss, Louise Pope and Sr. Theresa Sandok, OSM. I am particularly grateful for the countless, dedicated hours that Fr. Dennis Mullen spent in preparing the original draft of this project. I would also like to thank Sr. Katarina Schuth, OSF, Ph.D., Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion of the St. Paul Seminary, who provided review and expertise for the final draft. I thank Fr. William Brenna and the cluster parishes he serves for graciously piloting the process for diocesan-wide use. I am grateful for the wholehearted assistance of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Presbyteral Council, the Deans and diocesan staff for their considerable time in reviewing and for their input and suggested modifications, which has added much richness to the final document.
I look forward to your full cooperation with this undertaking as well as the potential parish renewal that can take place from taking a comprehensive view of the Church in Northern Wisconsin.
I remain sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Peter F. Christensen
Bishop of Superior
© Superior Catholic Herald, April 26, 2012