Pastor’s Pastoral Plan – Part One
St. Monica is an exceptionally good parish. We have weathered storms (financial challenges, closing of our school) and have emerged with new spiritual programs, excellent liturgy, numerous children attending local Catholic schools and Religious Education, solid finances and a Master Plan to steward our facilities.
But what would it take to make St. Monica a “great” Catholic Parish, a parish mentioned in books? A parish where people from the region – and perhaps the country – call and ask “How do you people do what you do?” Can you help us do the same?” And should we even expect or desire more?
Christ does not bless mediocrity (“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16). Christ desires excellence and abundance for His people and from His people. But this will require everyone (parishioners, pastor, parish leadership, staff) to take a harder look at ourselves and our parish and see where The Lord is calling us to go. Let me begin to offer you an outline where we can go as a parish. First, you will read the concrete steps that I plan to take as a pastor. But—more importantly– here you will find what role you can take in the plans for something more here at St. Monica. We plan on offering opportunities where you can join in a compelling, exciting, Christ-driven future for our parish.
This week I shall outline the topics of:
- Importance and Role of Prayer
- Resources in Support of the Mission
- Focus of the Pastor
- Strategy of Parish Management and Parish Staff
- Parish Communications
- Parish Leadership
Next week I shall outline the rest of my thoughts surrounding:
- Pastoral- and Parish Outreach
- Parishioners in the Pews
- “W.I.N.N. – ing” and where you come in.
In this, and next week’s posts, I present summary versions. I encourage you to look at the full version of my ideas here for more in depth details.
Vision and Mission: Different people/groups (Parish Staff, external professional support, pastor, leadership) will play different roles in the fulfillment of the St. Monica Parish Vision/Mission. However, You the individual parishioners play the most primary and significant role in the fulfillment of that Mission. This requires specific, intentional direction. We will use the Vision and Mission as the foundation to guide St. Monica’s direction, activities and resources.
Prayer at St. Monica: A new “Prayer Ministry” at St. Monica Church will be starting soon. I especially desire and need a dedicated team of “prayer warriors” to support me and my intentions through prayer, and, on a grand scale, intercede for the parish and to discern/protect new initiatives rolling out at St. Monica in the months ahead.
Resources in Support of the Mission: The generosity of parishioners has provided financial resources to address close to $1.8 million of repairs/over-due maintenance currently needed and to underwrite new pastoral and spiritual initiatives. Our “Master Plan” and professional assistance will ensure physical facilities of St. Monica will be well taken care of.
Having addressed this issue, I feel that it is now time for me as the Pastor to extricate myself from the temporal area and focus on other roles instead.
Focus of Pastor: Christ told all of us (not just priests, nuns and bishops) to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Over the past several years, it has become evident to me where my gifts and talents (“charisms”) lie. They are: “Knowledge,” “Teaching” and “Leadership” I might be gifted and have been trained in administrative/ managerial areas but do not feel they are as “anointed” as the three above. Thus, I shall begin to intentionally focus my energy in a way that achieves the greatest spiritual/pastoral impact in the parish. Starting this summer I will be personally leading an evangelization effort by hosting Alpha programs in Devon Manor and Trinity House. We are planning a third Alpha outreach for mothers and fathers with small children who might not be able to attend evening sessions by holding a session during the daytime this fall. I have asked our young adults to consider holding something similar for their age bracket. Finally, I will also be hosting the same series next year during Lent on Sundays for the parish-at-large.
Strategy for Parish Management/Parish Staff. I am incredibly fortunate to enjoy the support of our Parish Staff. Their morale is exceptional, they care for one another and are starting to see the need to care for themselves as well. They work hard for the benefit of the parish and are deeply devoted to St. Monica as witnessed to their commitment and dedication to the parish through very difficult times in recent years. Nevertheless, we realize that we can also improve. We are re-examining the staff/pastor’s job descriptions and “charters” to ensure we align staff work with the Parish Mission/Vision (A previous Charter for Parish Staff is here; the current Charter for Fr. Zlock is here). We will engage parishioners in a 360-degree evaluation to provide me and members of the staff with feedback, compliments and suggestions. This feedback will provide a “baseline” by which we can measure ourselves in the future, and provide specifics about where we do things well and where we need to improve.
Communication and Personal Interactions: This involves six parties: the parishioners, Pastor, Parish Staff, Parish Leadership (Finance Council, Pastoral Council, and Facilities Committee), “official” parish organizations/ministries as well as any tenants/volunteers/groups who lease or use our facilities. Policies and procedures concerning the reservation of space/facilities for activities and organizations have been established. Guidelines and procedures to announce and advertise activities/events using various parish media have also been developed. Finally, working with Parish Council and the staff, we have begun to establish a series of “values” and corresponding “behaviors” for all constituencies and the communication relationships between them. These are currently posted on the parish website.
“Charters” for Organizations/Ministries and Parish Leadership: Chartering for Organizations/Ministries began 3 years ago and continues today with pending “Charters” for Holy Name Society and CYO in the works. Parish Leadership includes three “teams:” the Parish Financial Council, the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Facilities Committee. They have been a valuable service to the Parish of Saint Monica, especially over the past five years. But the parish of St. Monica is in a different place now than previously. Therefore, I am also revising the “Charters” of the Parish Finance Council (see draft version here) and Parish Pastoral Councils (see draft version here). We will be updating their corresponding policies and procedures, changing their focus away from helping manage the “nuts and bolts” of parish activity and more towards a model that emphasizes prayer, discernment and ensuring the parish is fulfilling the Mission.