I’m happy to announce that this week’s edition of The Compass contains the full text version of my pastoral letter, “Parishes: Called to be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive.” Since I arrived here as your bishop in August 2008, I have been reminded on a daily basis what a remarkable diocese this truly is. Each of you brings a special sense of faith, hope and charity to all that you do. Everywhere I go I meet priests, deacons, religious and members of the lay faithful who bring their enthusiasm and dedication to our church.
In this pastoral letter I remind you that the heart of our faith in our diocese is the local parish. And that is the focus of our vision for moving forward. Over the past years it has often been difficult whenever the diocese was placed in a position where it was necessary to close a parish. But the focus of our year-long visioning process has been to accentuate the positive … to look at what really works well in our parishes, what are the ways in which we’ve been able to light the flame of faith among our young people, and how we have nurtured great parish leadership that includes pastors, parish directors and the many committees and councils that are responsible for our day-to-day success.
Implementation of many of the dreams that surfaced during the past year, and were presented at the Diocesan Visioning Leadership Summit, will be a good indication that our diocese is not only alive and well, but is truly filled with Holy Spirit. We are poised to make great strides so that our collective dream of parishes that are fully engaged and fully alive can become a reality.
Download PDF copy
of pastoral letter
Go to this link to download a PDF file of Bishop Ricken’s pastoral letter.
This pastoral letter is not intended to be a “how-to” manual. Rather, I present it to the faithful of the Diocese of Green Bay as a starting point for parishes to use in building on their own dreams for the future. I have chosen six pastoral focus areas from our year-long process: Evangelization; Youth, Young Adult & Family; Leadership; Education; Eucharist; and the Dignity of Human Life. The pastoral letter takes each of these six focus areas and breaks it open into several areas of concentration that parishes can focus on in their own particular situation.
As we begin to pray about and discern which pastoral focus areas to address first, I hope that each of you will take the time to read this pastoral letter, pray for guidance, look at the gifts within your parish, then join with others in a discernment process to prioritize one or two goals for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. Please know that I am also asking the various diocesan departments to simultaneously develop a Diocesan Strategic Pastoral Plan that will assist the parishes in responding to these areas of concentration to the best of our ability.
I want to thank all of you who took part in this visioning process: participants in the 30 focus groups, representing six specific ages groups; individuals who added their hopes and dreams as part of the parish discovery and dreaming reports; diocesan leaders from more than 20 different diocesan groups; and members of the wisdom committee who came up with a true vision of parish life today.
May God continue to bless you all.