Visioning process continues

By | November 17, 2010

Mark Mogilka, diocesan director of Stewardship and Pastoral Services, said the visioning process has helped surface many interesting suggestions during the discover and dream phases.1026VISIONING-logo-web2

“Some of the insights and ideas that are starting to come out of the various meetings have been really energizing,” he said.

The Diocesan Visioning Process, announced by Bishop David Ricken last August, has brought parish members and diocesan leaders together in small groups to explore and envision what gives life to the church. They’ve been asked to dream about what would make a vibrant parish and now those dreams will help diocesan leaders plan for the next step in the visioning process.

Mogilka explained that some participants began the process reluctantly. “About halfway through, especially when they start talking about the dreams … there’s an excitement that starts to build,” he said. “Towards the end of the experience people are saying, ‘Gee, this was a great experience. This was the first time we ever talked about dreams.'”

The visioning process encompasses four steps, referred to as the “4-D Cycle of Appreciative Inquiry.” It includes:

• Discovery Phase: Prayerful reflection on where the church has been its best;

• Dream Phase: Discerning or imagining what God might be asking the church to become;

• Design Phase: Reviewing the first two steps and determining what should be incorporated in the pastoral plan;

• Destiny: Creating what will be a pastoral vision for the church of Green Bay.

With the first two phases nearly complete, work now begins on the design phase, gathering reports and presenting them at a Leadership Summit scheduled for Feb. 18-20, 2011.

Four groups, referred to as voices, are helping to formulate the Diocesan Visioning Process. They include:

• Focus groups of “typical” Catholics from throughout the diocese. These include St. John the Baptist Parish in Howard; St. Raphael the Archangel in Oshkosh; St. Margaret Mary in Neenah; Ss. Peter and Paul in Kiel; and a grouping of smaller parishes in the northeast corner of the diocese. Between the five groups, 30 focus groups representing six specific age groups, offered their input at meetings held in August and September. Matousek and Associates, a Green Bay market research firm, has published a summary of the focus group reports.

• Parishes. Each diocesan parish was invited to solicit input from parishioners or parish leadership relating to the discovery and dream phases. The deadline for parishes to complete these gatherings was extended into December, said Mogilka.

• Diocesan leaders. Twenty-four leadership groups ranged from diocesan staff members and ministerial groups to campus ministry leaders and health care leaders. Mogilka said all leadership groups have completed their sessions.

• Wisdom Committee. Unlike the three other voices, this group’s function is to study the history and mission of the diocese and articulate a vision for parish life today, said Mogilka. The group consists of theologians, pastors and parish directors. “They decided to go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and use that as a framework for a position paper,” said Mogilka. The group has met once a month and should conclude their work by December.

Mogilka said the Matousek and Associates summary of the 30 focus group meetings, released Oct. 25, has revealed some interesting findings. When it comes to vitality and life in the parish, the focus group summary indicated that the top five signs of parish life and vitality were:

• A welcoming environment. One focus group participant stated, “When we went through the rite of dedicating this church, everybody walked from the old building to this one singing, ‘All Are Welcome.’ That said it all.”

• Connection to faith community. “Many parishioners talked about their church as a second home,” said the report.

• Youth. “Every parish talked about the importance of offering programming and activities that attract youth and keep them connected to their church,” the report noted.

• Church leadership. A “dynamic priest with an innate ability to reach the congregation through relevant homilies” was listed as a key to parish life.

• Activities, outreach and ministries. These areas bring people together in the parish, said the report. “Nearly everyone … talked about the joy and fulfillment they receive from joining groups or committees and being active.”

A summary of the top five parish dreams for the future was also included in the report. They include:

• The church of the future builds on and enhances what already exists.

• The church is the center of family life.

• The pews are full; people want to be there.

• The church is welcoming.

• Parishioners are all involved, both socially and through a wide variety of opportunities for outreach.

Mogilka added that the Appreciative Inquiry process in parishes has surfaced some worthwhile ideas for future parish ministry and outreach. He described a parish meeting with Native American Catholics.

“We got into the dreaming part and one person said, ‘We have a real challenge with alcoholism on the reservation. My hope is that five to seven years from now, this parish would be a center for alcohol abuse prevention and we would have AA groups here and we might have a counselor available.’

“I was pretty impressed with that,” said Mogilka. Another person noted that many young Native Americans are artistically talented. “My dream is that in the next five to seven years, we would host a national Native American arts festival,” he told Mogilka. “Those are some of the ideas that have come out.”

Work now begins on preparing for the Leadership Summit, said Mogilka. “Now it’s on the backs of us, as diocesan staff, to turn this into position papers and materials and to make sure that we get the various invites out to people for the Leadership Summit.”

Related Posts

Scroll to Top