Disciples on the Way: An update

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Bishop Ricken

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is hard to believe that it has been four years since we began our journey on the mission map of discipleship formation! In 2014, we began with two years of formation in prayer and holiness — in learning more about prayer and meditation and increasing prayer in our homes and parishes. This foundation tilled the soil so that our efforts in discipleship could take root in our hearts, homes and communities.

In 2016, we began the formation process to “Discover Jesus” and “Follow Jesus” for the leadership of the diocese, including diocesan staff, pastors, deacons and school administrators. We also welcomed key volunteers from our parishes to attend a series of seminars throughout the diocese, including parish council members, boards of education and other key volunteer roles.

At this time, over 3,000 leaders have gone through training and formation experiences in the last two years through Discipleship Seminars I and II followed by a “Discover Jesus” process called “Alpha.” In the coming years, Alpha will be presented to more and more people in your parish, as it is the first step (alpha) in beginning or deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ. I will be sharing much more about these experiences in a series of columns that I will write over the next year. Through these columns, I hope to give you a high-level understanding of all that is going on in this wonderful diocese.

In 2018-20, on the leadership level, through “Worship Jesus,” we will strive to understand the importance of the Mass and reclaiming Sunday as the center of our life as disciples. In these upcoming years we will, with your invaluable assistance and participation, implement simple ways to enhance our Sunday experience at Mass by making a few strategic and faithful improvements in sacred music, preaching, welcome and hospitality.

God willing, in 2020-2022 we will be learning more about how to “Share Jesus” and to witness to our faith by inviting others to follow the Lord in and through our parish communities. We will also learn how to impact our communities with the Good News through witness and especially service by intentionally contributing as a faith community to the life of the communities where we are located.

The diocesan staff has been working very hard to bring the new vision and mission statement, which you will see below, to life at the diocesan level and assist our parishes in bringing missionary discipleship forward to all those in our communities.

We have streamlined the staff from 16 departments to five mission teams, all of which shall assist one another in helping our parishes and our diocese to move forward in missionary discipleship. Our mission is to bring all people to see and experience the Kingdom of God here on earth. We call all people to follow the Lord, to grow in holiness and to transform our homes and parishes, schools and ministries into places of prayer and dynamic outreach to our neighbors, whether the family next door, the business down the street, or the poor and needy within our parish territory.

This is truly an exciting journey and we are just at the beginning. I am confident that this journey will become truly life-giving as more people buy in and participate. Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that grows into the largest of plants. I believe that we are at the seed stage right now, but I look forward to the amazing growth that is going to come.

So I invite you to start by getting involved in Alpha and experience Jesus in new and surprising ways. As you do, reach out to others to share what you have experienced.

The Second Vatican Council, Popes Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis, have been boldly challenging us to actively promote the Good News of the Gospel. I ask you to remember the efforts of the entire Diocese of Green Bay, which encompasses 16 counties in northeast Wisconsin, in your prayers. I ask you to be deeply faithful to Christ and the church and to become involved wherever and whenever you can. You are needed; you are vital to this essential endeavor of the church.

May the Holy Spirit bless all of these efforts and work through us and way beyond us to accomplish God’s will in these matters at this time in history and in this place.

Vision statement

“We are missionary disciples striving to lead all people to the Kingdom of God.”

Mission statement

“As friends and followers of Jesus, we are devoted to fostering households and communities of discipleship through the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church.”