Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Developing a culture of planning

Feb. 5, 2020

By William J. Amoriell
Chair, Living Stones
Planning Committee

We get so consumed with "putting out fires" and just the normal day-to-day responsibilities that it is often difficult to find time for planning – long-range and ongoing. However, planning that is long-range and ongoing is essential, if we hope to develop parishes that are more vibrant than they are now and that better meet the needs of all parishioners throughout the diocese. When parishes completed their "pastoral plan" self-assessment in response to the Living Stones Planning Committee (LSPC) document, Living Stones Planning Committee: Report and Plan, they all identified areas where they needed additional support personnel and/or programming. This was made clear in the information presented in a previous article that appeared in the North Country Catholic (NCC). As you may recall, the chart identified the strengths and areas of need for further development identified by those who responded to the LSPC survey self-assessment completed as part of Phase One of the LSPC process. The LSPC survey listed a number of the areas that can contribute to the vibrancy of a parish and help determine how well we are meeting the pastoral needs of all parishioners within their territorial boundaries. The sections of the survey that relate most directly to vibrancy and the health of a parish cover two major categories: (1) Faith Formation Support Personnel and (2) Faith/Community Formation Programming.

The table included in the last NCC that listed specific faith-formation support personnel, as well as faith-formation programming, contained the responses from 29 of the 36 parish groupings who responded to the LSPC survey. The following table is repeated here but will vary slightly from what was included in the last NCC, as we now have 31 responses, instead of the 29 reported earlier. Following each faith-formation support personnel, as well as the faith-formation programming areas identified, are the percentages of parish groupings that indicated a need for additional support personnel and/or faith-formation programming in each area:

As mentioned in the last NCC Living Stones Planning Committee article series, the above results reveal a daunting task. The summary data, which the parish groupings identified themselves, clearly suggest the areas that parish groupings need to focus on, in order to become more vibrant and to better meet the pastoral needs of all parishioners.

Phase Two: Living Stones Planning Committee Process
During this second phase, the Living Stones Planning Committee is asking parishes throughout the diocese to establish committees representing the different parishes within their grouping and to prioritize the needs they have already identified. The LSPC suggested the following target dates to help guide the planning process:
For Parishes with Submitted "Pastoral Plans"

1. By November 15, 2019: Establish a Planning Committee and begin the long-range planning process.

2. December 14, 2019: Prioritize needs and (1) select the top three needs, (2) form subcommittees or a group to develop a plan and recommendations for addressing the assigned need/s.

3. By February 15, 2020: Review and finalize plan and recommendations for top 3 needs.

4. By March 11, 2020: Repeat long-range planning process for the next three needs originally identified. Follow-up dates and modifications will be determined based on what was learned in completing the process for the top three needs.

There are a few parishes who were not able to complete the LSPC self-assessment survey, so their "target dates" and process have been adjusted to accommodate that fact and to bring all parishes together by May 2020. It is clear that individual parish timelines and activities vary, so parishes have been asked to adjust the timeline suggested above to address and conform to their specific situation.

To repeat what was printed in an earlier NCC article, it is critical that parishes begin to develop a plan (both ongoing and long-range), if not begun already, that is tied directly to the needs they have already identified.

It is also clear that parishes will not be able to address all areas of need all at once. That is why the areas identified need to be prioritized and then work needs to begin on addressing the top priorities over the next year or two. Once the first set of priorities has been addressed, the next set from the list needs to be addressed over the next year or two, and so on. We are not talking about a quick fix, as there isn't one. This is something that will demand our attention, commitment, patience, and creativity over the next several years, but the benefits that can be reaped from this process can be enormous. It might be valuable to recall the Hemmingway quote mentioned in the NCC article series already published:

Today is only one day
in all the days that will ever be.
But what will happen in all the other days
that ever come
can depend on what 'we' do today.
– Ernest HemmingwayFor Whom the Bells Tolls

Also, as previously cited, there is another quote worth including here that continues to be relevant to our situation. It is a quote taken from The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table written by Oliver Wendell Homes in 1858.

I find the great thing in this world
is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving:
To reach the port of heaven,
we must sail sometimes with the wind
and sometimes against it,
– but we must sail,
and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

This can be taken as sound advice for what we will be engaged in over the next few years. We don't have all the answers, but that is no excuse for allowing ourselves to drift or simply lie at anchor – which we may have been doing more than we would like to acknowledge.

The ship is about to sail. We shall keep you informed of the progress that is being made in everyone's effort to accomplish our goal of more vibrant, responsive, and engaged church communities.

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.