Next Steps 6 – A Spiritual Reflection
Over the past few weeks, I have been outlining my ideas on answering critical questions concerning the future of St. Monica Parish such as: “Why are we here? What would you have us do, Lord? What would Jesus want the Parish of St. Monica to look like in 5 years?” The first two, and probably the most critical, were Prayer and Engagement With The Bible. We then examined the importance stewarding our resources by Building A Foundation followed by Measuring the Spiritual Health of the Parish which dealt with our church and buildings and Determining the Individual Call of Parishioners. This week we look at the final two steps.
Sixth Step: Examine and Steward the Temporal Needs Of The Ministry. A parish is an organization and as such, needs to tend to what is known as “governance” in church parlance. This would include examining environmental factors in the immediate neighborhood, the archdiocese, the United States and even world events. These can present opportunities as well as challenges to the parish. In addition, governance would ask us to look at the internal strengths and areas for growth of St. Monica Parish as well. These factors lead us to consider parish direction and issues surrounding organization and implementation of the Parish Mission:
“We are a community on a pilgrimage to a sacred place, inviting all to walk with us as we Discover Jesus in Our Lives, Understand Our Life’s Purpose, Develop A Personal Relationship With Christ, Enrich Our Local Community, Impact The Whole World.”
Only then can a St. Monica hope to evangelize, sanctify, catechize and serve our neighborhood and the wider world.
With guidance from parishioner Matt Manion at the Catholic Leadership Institute, and my participation in their “Good Leaders – Good Shepherds” program, priests, pastors and I have been provided with several valuable tools to discern in which managerial, organizational and leadership areas St. Monica is performing well, where are the areas for growth and which critical areas should be the primary focus of our time and resources over the next 12 months.
Seventh Step: Re-examine The Mission. Align The Spiritual And Temporal Resources Of The Parish. We don’t know what we don’t know. Examining the spiritual/pastoral health of the parish, ascertaining the spiritual gifts of individual parishioners together with ascertaining the temporal/managerial/leadership needs of St. Monica, will indicate the direction the Lord would like His parish go. Different people are at different stages in their relationship with Christ (known as a “Spiritual Continuum”). A one-size-fits-all approach to spiritual, pastoral, liturgical and catechetical needs of the parish will simply not work. We need to meet people where they are in that relationship with Christ and The Church.
A number of companies are now offering different options and top flight, professionally developed programs to spiritually “feed” people in a way that “customizes” their relationship to Christ. We are already examining several of these programs. We are also personally speaking with vibrant, growing, “best practices” parishes in the US and Canada to see what we can glean from their experience and what we can realistically apply to our community at St. Monica Parish. Our pastoral outreach, our religious education and our youth programs must also consider this “spiritual continuum” of individual parishioners, cross referenced with where we feel Jesus Christ is leading the mission of the parish as a whole.
It’s an exciting time. I hope you will dive deeper into this adventure – and invite someone else to join us on the journey.