Building a culture of missionary discipleship

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Bishop Ricken

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Three years ago, after consultation with my staff, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I announced a new vision and mission for the Diocese of Green Bay. This new vision and mission is centered on building families and communities of discipleship that discover Jesus, follow Jesus, worship Jesus and share Jesus with others. The vision and mission serve as our answer to why we do what we do, especially here in our diocesan offices, also known as the curia.

As we began our work to implement this new vision and mission, we recognized that we needed to embrace a new culture, a new way of being. So again, after prayer to the Holy Spirit, we wrote a culture statement and identified the core values that would guide our work. The culture and values speak to who we must become in order to bring this vision and mission to life.

The process to bring this culture to life has been ongoing over the past couple of years. Through training and development, we continue to grow in our understanding of the culture and we challenge each other daily to live our values. While bringing the culture to life is an ongoing process, I have witnessed a shift in our offices as we seek ways to explore potential, connect to inspire, embrace people’s hearts, empower to act, and nurture abundant life and growth.

Having set this foundation, this past year we have started to focus even more on what we must do to bring our vision and mission to life and how we must do it. In other words, we began to shift our focus to strategy or mission planning. Just as many of our parishes are in the process of parish mission planning, within the diocesan offices we have begun a process of mission planning. We see these processes as mutually beneficial in that parish mission planning can inform and support curia mission planning, and curia mission planning can enhance and support parish mission planning.

Through this planning process, we recognized that our priority is to call forth and form leaders who love Jesus and live his mission. To help us do this, I recently announced to our staff two goals that I have set for us to achieve over the next five years.

Discipleship Goal: By 2025, we will call forth and form 1,000 missionary leaders who will mobilize 25,000 missionary disciples who disciple at least two others.

Vocations Goal: By 2025, we will call forth and form 30 seminarians to be missionary leaders in the priesthood.

Now some may be wondering, how did we arrive at these numbers? We recognized that if we are going to lead all people to the Kingdom of God, as our vision states, we must begin by reaching a critical mass that will tip the scales in building a culture of missionary discipleship. Through our discernment and our assessment of the diocese today, we determined that 25,000 missionary disciples is that tipping point.

As for vocations, the goal of 30 seminarians is based on two things. First, having 30 seminarians would mean that in any given year, we would ordain three to five priests, which is what we believe we will need in order to meet the pastoral needs of our diocese. We also chose this number based on a principle to double in five. Since we currently have about 15 seminarians, 30 seminarians in 2025 would mean we have doubled in five years.

We know that these are ambitious goals, but we believe that if we are going to be the church that God intends us to be, we need to be bold. As Jesus reminds us in the Gospels, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which starts as the smallest seed but becomes the largest of plants.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be developing action plans that will help us achieve these goals. Through my column, I will continue to unpack what these goals mean for us and provide updates on the progress we are making.

There is significant work ahead, but we are confident that if we are successful in achieving these goals, we will set the church in the Diocese of Green Bay on a path to fulfill our vision and mission and to transform the communities in which we live. I ask for your prayers for our efforts. May we continue to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit to respond to Christ’s call to lead all people to the Kingdom of God!

Follow Bishop Ricken on Twitter at @BpDavidRicken.