PLANNING—We’re entering into full Planning Mode, and we’re going to be there for awhile. First, on the parish level—I’ve been wanting, since I was assigned here, to lead a community planning process. Especially because I knew there had been a succession of pastors in a brief time, and with that it’s hard to get a clear view of the best future for the parish, or momentum to carry it out.
I’ve done this in all three previous parishes I’ve been pastor, and the results are strong. Generating a vision and priorities from the congregation, not just the priests or a few leaders, provides that momen- tum and buy-in for the plans from the widest possible group of parishioners, and motivates people to help put it into practice. The Parish Council started this week to plan for a major event, probably after the first of the year, to start things off, with health practices in place. Our advisor will then guide us through the process to make a comprehensive plan, on every part of parish life, sometime next year. I’ve found this is a lot better then piecemeal improvements with no long-term vision in mind. I’m excited that we’re starting, and you’ll get clear information on it as it progresses.
Much of this could be said about a similar process begun in the whole Archdiocese. Priests and lay- people were briefed on this comprehensive planning process you may have heard about. It addresses critical areas like the number of priests, shifting demographics, and excellent church practices. This is just starting, and will be a couple of years before plans take shape; then there will be a segment of years to implement them. Our parish planning is not in response to these Archdiocesan plans; we began laying the groundwork before that was announced. What we can do toward the Archdiocesan process is be ready to participate in this too, in any way asked; and most of all, to continue meanwhile growing our parish into the excellent faith community it is, and can even be more so.
Halloween is coming in a couple of weeks, and I enjoy the fun of it. I had a basic scenario outside last year. This year, come and see a real spaceship!! (well, it looks like one–) and other signs of alien life. It stays light now till around 6, so we’ll start then and go to around 7:30.
Finally, this is my week for Retreat. It’s a great time every year, and I’m going into it from a good place, enjoying the life of the parish the last few months. This opportunity is not exclusive to priests or monks. Everyone needs time to clarify and celebrate the presence of God in your life. I’ll be guided by my spiritual director to go through a new book “Learning to Pray”, by Jesuit Jim Martin.
I invite you to join me for even a brief time of your own prayer, reflection, or special reading: in the Adoration Chapel, after a Sunday or daily Mass, out in nature, or in your own home (asking others who may be there to give you a little space for a while). Claim a little time to nurture your spirit for all that you do.