Minutes of Diocesan Pastoral Council | 4.9.2022

I. The meeting opened with a prayer led by Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight.

II. Approval of Minutes

  • LeAnn Korsmeyer moved to approve the minutes and seconded by Carol Schwartze; the minutes were approved.

III. Review of Deanery Meetings

A. DPC Experience:

  • Bishop McKnight has met with the Deans to review the parish leadership deanery meetings; in particular, ways to improve the use of this meeting time and functionality.
  • Also discussed were various roles in which the DPC representatives could assist the Deans in coordinating and facilitating the parish leadership deanery meetings.
  • Parish leadership deanery meetings are held four times a year on the same date throughout the diocese allowing a consistent presentation of information.
  • These meetings have provided important structure in reviewing the first year of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan as well as the parish pastoral plans.
  • One objective for the second year of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan is to provide formation to parish councils. Chancery staff have already conducted a brief presentation on this topic and will provide additional presentations on other pertinent topics in the future.

B. How Do We Improve:

  • The DPC representatives discussed the deanery meetings with the understanding that this approach is new.
  • It is Bishop McKnight’s hope that the cooperation between the Deans and DPC representatives will be seen by parish leadership as a model of co-responsibility for how pastors work with the lay leadership of their parish councils.
  • Bishop McKnight suggested choosing a central location within each deanery to host these meetings. This location should have sufficient bandwidth and if needed, he is willing to invest in audio/visual equipment to ensure the meetings run smoothly.

IV. Future Deanery Meeting Dates

  • The second year of the Diocesan and parish pastoral plans will be reviewed at the August 16 and October 18, 2022, deanery meetings.

V. Update on the Diocesan Phase of the Synod of Bishops 2023

  • Helen Osman reported that the Diocesan Synodal Commission has established a process for the listening sessions, allowing people to answer two points:
    • Share an experience in the church that they’ve had, negative or positive; and
    • What is the Holy Spirit asking of us? 
  • Participation in the listening sessions was lower than anticipated, but the information gathered was significant and correlated with the work done on both the Diocesan and the parish pastoral plans. 
  • Mrs. Osman participated in all of the listening sessions and read all of the survey results.  Deacon Enrique Castro is translating results received in Spanish. 
    • A common theme surfaced: people felt invisible, rejected, or not welcomed at their parish communities. 
  • We must consider the responsibility of the laity in creating centers of charity, sanctuaries of mercy, and hospitality through inclusive spaces for people. 
  • Mrs. Osman will write a report of the results for the USCCB; Bishop McKnight encouraged her to write an additional report identifying how these results may impact our pastoral planning work. 
  • Mrs. Osman stated the online survey will be promoted again to the parishes. 
    • Bishop McKnight added that the online survey is not the ideal. The process was to be a listening experience and allow parishioners to speak what was on their heart.
  • Bishop McKnight is looking forward to the August commission’s report of the results from the listening sessions. He will ask that those results be incorporated into the parish plans and that consideration be given to what the parish priests and the laity need to do to alter that experience which some are having. 

VI. Diocesan Pastoral Plan Year 2 Review

A. Stewardship:

  • Bishop McKnight reported the next couple of DPC meetings will be dedicated to reviewing the second year of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan. 
    • In between the meetings, parishes will be assisted in conducting their own reviews.

a. Second pilot cohort currently in formation

  • This year, the second cohort of parishes are transitioning from the Catholic Stewardship Appeal to Catholic Stewardship Renewal.
  • The transition of all parishes will be complete by the end of the third year and the CSA will cease. At that point, resources provided will assist parishes in promoting their annual stewardship renewal of time, talent and treasure and an across-the-board tithe of offertory receipts will replace the collection of the annual appeal.
  • Small parish groups of cohorts I and II who participated in Grateful Living: The Joy of Stewardship were very successful. We want to foster, encourage and devote resources to make sure these small parish groups continue.

b. Establish a diocesan stewardship council

  • Another goal was to establish a Diocesan Stewardship Council; this is being planned for the summer. 
  • What will be done at the diocesan level will be a model for what should happen in the parishes. Ideally, parishes will need a devoted body of people for ongoing promotion of the Catholic Stewardship Renewal in the parish.
  • Jim Lundholm-Eads of Leadership Roundtable added that we are ahead of many dioceses by having defined clearly what the lay councils do and what separates them.

B. Co-Responsibility

  • The keys to the promotion of these councils is ongoing catechesis and spiritual formation. 
  • DPC representatives should present themselves as direct active partners with the deans; a good focus would be around developing mercy and charities.
  • Bishop McKnight emphasized the importance of greater active participation in the mission of the church, whether through catechesis, liturgy, or charity and mercy.
    • More volunteer time should be spent on carrying out the mission and less on fundraising.
  • The stewardship council is also a discerning council, helping the rest of the parish leadership and pastor discern where the parish might improve. 
  • Patricia Lutz added that another aspect of the stewardship council is accountability.  They listen to what people want to be involved in and make sure they are engaged.
  • Bishop McKnight asked for the number of requests that the diocese has received for the formation of councils.
    • Denise Barnes reported there are seven active requests and explained the process.
    • Bishop McKnight added that these councils are advisory, but it is up to the pastors to best utilize the discernment of the lay councils when making decisions.

C. Charity and Mercy:

  • Dan Lester spoke on the role of Catholic Charities in the diocese. Their role is twofold: 1) they coordinate their own programs, services, and ministries within the community and 2) they welcome refugees and migrants.
  • To increase communication and cooperation with the parishes, Catholic Charities is establishing the Catholic Charities Ambassadors initiative. 
    • The ambassadors will collaborate with parishes to determine what the needs of the parishes are and how they can help.
    • Mr. Lester discussed how they will establish these ambassadors and the expectations of commitment.
    • Catholic Charities will create the supportive materials and provide the training the ambassadors will need to carry out the objectives of the initiative.
    • Mr. Lester proposed that the first group of ambassadors should be selected from the permanent diaconate and their wives.
  • Mr. Lester next discussed the Charity and Mercy Grant Program.
    • Parishes can apply for technical and/or financial support of an existing charitable activity within the parish or to begin a new ministry.
  • Earl Pabst motioned that the initial and basic foundation for the ambassador program be the deacons and their wives. Sheri Stormer seconded.  The motion carried unanimously.

D. Role of the DPC

  • To assist the Deans in communicating the vision and implementation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan to the priests and lay leadership in their deanery. 
  • To model with the Dean the importance of collaboration and co-responsibility. 
    • Co-responsibility is also the mutual respect for the difference in roles and responsibilities, both clergy and laity and also among the laity. 

E. Role of Parish Leadership

  • To assist the priests in communicating, implementing, and monitoring their parish plan. 
  • To communicate with their parish about the status of their pastoral plan. 

F. Survey

  • Mrs. Korsmeyer is concerned that many people in the pews are not aware of the pastoral plan and presented a survey for the laity with a timeline for its facilitation.
  • Bishop McKnight added that in an effort to get a good response, the survey was kept brief and will be online. 
  • After discussion, it was recommended to adjust the timeline; the recommendation will be taken into consideration and a response will be provided to the DPC at a later date.

G. Communication and Integration

  • Bishop McKnight stated this communication is to help the parishes understand that this is being worked on, evaluated, and updated. 

VII. Long term planning: Clergy Personnel and Parish Structures

  • Bishop McKnight emphasized the need to work on pastoral planning to build thriving parish communities as well as to plan for a reduced number of active priests. Over the next year, we will look at our present structures of parishes.
    • Msgr. Robert Kurwicki gave an overview of the CARA report of our priest personnel projections.
    • We have begun the process in ten of our counties. We are trying to place our priests in areas that can serve the largest number of people and provide sufficient support staff for them, but we must plan strategically for the future.
    • It is important to look at this objectively – what is the goal for the mission of the Church throughout the territory of the diocese? How can we maintain the mission of the Church with lower numbers?
  • This will be on the August agenda.

VIII. Cathedral Update

  • Bishop McKnight reported that the undercroft could be useable by Thanksgiving; this would include having Masses. 
  • Hopefully, by the end of January the rededication of the Cathedral could be celebrated, but we’ll have a better feel for this as things progress. 
  • Bishop McKnight addressed the lack of understanding present throughout the diocese regarding the importance of the cathedral church for the whole diocese. 
    • The Cathedral is the mother church of the entire diocese; this is part of what it is to be Catholic, to have that sense of communion, belonging to something greater than a local congregation. 
  • Helen Osman added that a Cathedral renovation page has been launched online. 
  • We ask for prayers for those who are working on the Cathedral and supporting it.

IX. Publication of DPC Minutes

  • Mrs. Korsmeyer asked in the spirit of transparency, that the minutes be emailed to the council for approval; once approved an abbreviated bulleted version will be posted online. There were no objections from the council. 

IX. Future Meeting Dates

  • August 6, 2022, and December 2, 2022

XI. Bishop Remarks

  • Bishop McKnight thanked Connie Schepers, who has served at the Chancery more than 30 years.  Mrs. Schepers will be retiring at the end of June and this will be her last DPC meeting.

The meeting ended with prayer.

Minutes approved 6 August 2022