Former diocesan leader receives award

Research apostolate presents Mark Mogilka with 2017 Award for Exemplary Church Research

WASHINGTON — Mark Mogilka is the winner of the 2017 Rev. Louis J. Luzbetak SVD Award for Exemplary Church Research from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington. The award is named for CARA’s first executive director.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, left, and Jesuit Fr. Thomas Gaunt, executive director at CARA, are pictured with Mark Mogilka, who received CARA’s 2017 Award for Exemplary Church Research. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)

Pope Francis calls Catholics to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit, Mogilka said. “And God is a God of surprises.” He made the comments in accepting the award at a CARA reception Oct. 30 at Holy Trinity Church’s McKenna Hall in Washington.

He said he has been on an “incredible journey of faith.”

Mogilka is an organizational consultant, national speaker and workshop presenter in the areas of pastoral planning and parish leadership.

CARA said his work “models the exemplary use of applied research in addressing parish and diocesan issues.”

In June, he retired as director of Stewardship and Pastoral Services of the Diocese of Green Bay. He worked for the diocese for 31 and a half years. In his 42-year church career, he also worked for the dioceses of La Crosse and Columbus, Ohio.

He is now a senior consultant with Meitler. Based in Milwaukee, it provides planning and research for schools, parishes, dioceses and related not-for-profit institutions.

Forty-two years ago, he recalled, he thought his working for the church would be like being in the Peace Corps — it would last two years and then he’d get “real employment,” which was what his late father had hoped, he added with a chuckle.

But that was just the beginning of four decades of distinguished service in a succession of diocesan staff positions with an increasing number of responsibilities — all of which has led to him becoming a nationally recognized expert in pastoral planning, multiple parish pastoring, pastoral leadership and the future of the Catholic Church.

“What a journey it has been,” he said. “God has worked through, with and despite me!”

He said he was accepting the award for the many people “who have journeyed with me along the way,” especially the late Msgr. Philip J. Murnion of the National Pastoral Life Center. He praised the priest for his insight and knowledge and for spearheading what was the home of numerous pioneering programs to help diocesan and parish workers in their ministries.

Msgr. Murnion established the center in 1983 at the urging of the U.S. bishops after he became known among diocesan and parish workers for his efforts to help them find ways of conducting local ministries despite cultural pressures and the challenges of change in the church. He died of colon cancer in 2003 and the center closed in 2009.

Mogilka did not just thank work colleagues. He said he could not have worked for the church all these years without the support and love of his wife, Barb, and his whole family, including his 92-year-old mother, Loretta. His wife and mother were on hand to see him honored.

Mogilka became a bit emotional thinking about his late father, wishing he could have been there.

Mogilka praised CARA for its research into so many aspects of church and parish life, saying its results “give us hope, challenge us, stretch us. … (It) has brought us into the future.”

“(Pope) Francis calls us to be people of hope and possibility,” he added. “Vatican II called the church to read the signs of the times. CARA is a leader in reading those signs.” Only good quality research helps the church and its people know where they must be headed, he said.