In the letter, Bishop Ricken called upon each parish community to implement one or two of the six pastoral focus areas — evangelization, youth, young adults and family, leadership, education, Eucharist and dignity of human life — a year or each year over the next five to seven years.
According to Mark Mogilka, director of Stewardship and Pastoral Services for the Green Bay Diocese and a speaker at last week’s workshop, with the efforts already under way to implement the new translation of the Roman Missal this coming Advent season, Bishop Ricken has asked that the Eucharist be one of the parish priorities for the first year.
“Following the implementation of the Eucharist the first year, there is a lot of freedom and opportunities to decide what focus area to work on next and when,” said Fr. Dan Felton, pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manitowoc, also a speaker at the workshop.
After the publication of Bishop Ricken’s 10,000-plus word letter, many parishes wondered where to start. The workshops provided parish staff and leadership with many different documents to help them begin.
The first was a self-study tool, a document where parish staff, members of the pastoral council and other parish leaders can rank different aspects of their parish and then discuss the responses amongst themselves. Based on responses, parishes can develop priorities and a plan of action, Mogilka said.
The next step for parishes is to submit a “Parish Planning Process Update” by Nov. 15.
The purpose of the report, according to Mogilka, is to get an idea at what parishes are thinking in terms of planning and implementation of the pastoral letter.
This is just an update to show the diocese that parishes have at least met once to discuss how to move forward and to see if there is any help needed from the diocese, Mogilka said.
The next deadline is Jan. 15, 2012, when parishes are required to complete a parish implementation plan report. The purpose of this document, according to Fr. Felton, is to give the diocese an idea of the plans and progress that are taking place within parishes.
Workshop attendees were also presented with four possible development models to help parishes coordinate a plan of attack for the next year and beyond.
“Parishes should not expect a step-by-step, how-to plan on doing things,” Fr. Felton said. “It is up to parishes to create those steps and to follow through on implementing them. This is a more grassroots approach than a top-down method.”
At a minimum, Mogilka said, each parish is asked to have at least one meeting to discuss how the parish will strengthen the celebration of the Eucharist this year and whether or not to work on any of the other pastoral focus areas during 2011-2012.
In conjunction with the workshops being held for parish staff and leadership, meetings have also been carried out with priests throughout the diocese.
“Four meetings have taken place for priests so they have a full knowledge of what is going on and are there to help parish staff and leadership,” Fr. Felton said.
Copies of all documents were given to those in attendance and can also be found online at www.gbdioc.org/sps.