Minutes of Diocesan Pastoral Council | 8.6.2022

I. Opening Prayer:
Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight welcomed the members and opened the meeting with prayer.

II. Approval of Minutes:
Earl Pabst motioned to approve the 9 April 2022, minutes, seconded by Sheri Stormer. The minutes were approved by the membership.

III. Update on the Diocesan Phase of the Synod of Bishops 2023:
Helen Osman stated the diocesan report was made available through a variety of diocesan media. In preparation for today’s meeting, she has provided a copy of the Region IX Synod Report, a synthesis report from all the dioceses within Region IX – Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. This report is accessible through diocesan media as well. Mrs. Osman encouraged the council members to read the synthesis report as it reflects many of the themes identified in our own diocesan report. She further noted that reports from dioceses around the world are also identifying these same themes.

Three of the primary themes present throughout Region IX were:

  1. A call for greater faith formation especially for adults.
  2. A call for a renewal of hospitality and welcoming.
  3. A recognition of clericalism or an unwillingness, even among the laity, to bring in others when making decisions. This echoes our diocese’s greater call for leadership formation and a sense of co-responsibility.

An additional concern noted across the Region’s dioceses is that we are a “greying” church. The majority of the participants of the listening sessions were aged 50 or older. Mrs. Osman recommended that we pay very close attention to this concern and be more deliberate in our efforts to include those in their 40’s and younger.

Mrs. Osman stated that currently the USCCB is reviewing all of the Region Synod Reports and will share them with the bishops before writing a full report for Rome.

Bishop McKnight reminded the members that the primary purpose of this synodal process was to engage in the process of listening, there was not a desired outcome. As a discernment process, we listen with respect in order to give a better response.

IV. Diocesan Pastoral Plan Year 2 Review:
A. Strengthening Participation –
Rev. Stephen Jones provided an update of the Stewardship process as it pertains to the three-year Pastoral Plan.

  1. Cohort I, consisting of eight parishes, has fully implemented the three-tier, tithe-based model of the Stewardship way of life. Having just finished their first year, the year-end reports will be submitted within the next few weeks. This will provide valuable data regarding the application of the model within Cohort I as well as provide projections for Cohort II.
  2. Cohort II, consisting of 18 parishes, began implementing the model on 1 July 2022, after completing a year of preparation. Father Jones reported that Patricia Lutz and he are re-visiting the pastors of this cohort, especially those who changed parishes in July as this affects Stewardship.
  3. Cohort III, consisting of the remaining 68 parishes, began their preparation year on 1 July 2022, and will transition to the tithing model on 1 July 2023. The pastors of this cohort completed a one-day “boot camp” on 17 May 2022, and all of the school principals of the diocese completed a half-day version on 27 May 2022. These trainings were designed to ensure a consistency of Stewardship formation among the leadership of the two largest groups within a parish. Father Jones also stated that Mrs. Lutz and he are beginning to visit the parishes within this cohort to provide formation to the laity.

Potential members for the Diocesan Stewardship Council have been identified and an invitation to serve on this council is expected to be given by the end of August. This council will consist of laity, school principals and a number of pastors.

The primary focus of the Stewardship Office this year is on intentional communication to ensure that all of the faithful within the diocese can effectively understand and respond to the spirituality of Stewardship and its model.

B. Update of Implementation of Catholic Stewardship Renewal –
Mrs. Lutz stated the Catholic Stewardship Renewal will be held this year during the first three weekends of October.

  1. Cohort I went through the CSR process last year with direct assistance from the Stewardship Office; this year the parishes will be more independent in the process.
  2. Cohort II has received step-by-step training regarding information gathering, development, and distribution. This will be followed by additional training on accountability. To ensure a continued connection, Mrs. Lutz sends a monthly newsletter to provide communication tips and ongoing stewardship information the parishes can use.

Bishop McKnight asked if there is a way to collect data relating to the Time and Talent portions of the CSR. Father Jones responded that currently there is not, but they will be working with the parishes to create a method. Mrs. Lutz added that it would be very helpful to develop a method if all of the parishes use the diocesan database, Raiser’s Edge.

C. Clarification of Two Recent Decrees –
Bishop McKnight reviewed two recent decrees regarding Catholic schools and tuition, and capital campaigns. Father Jones provided clarification of the decrees as they relate to the Stewardship way of life by stating that although the decrees were developed as a result of great collaboration with the pastors, they may have been released before providing necessary context. In response, an easy to use FAQ document has been created to help guide pastors in the implementation of these decrees.

D. Pastoral Planning Survey and Timeline –
Mrs. Osman stated that the Pastoral Planning Survey consists of seven questions focusing on the Pastoral Plan and parishioners’ awareness of the Pastoral Planning process. She then reviewed the questions and noted that the survey will be communicated broadly through avenues of Diocesan media as well as promoted within the parishes.

Bishop McKnight discussed the timeline of the survey and provided context for it. The survey will be available beginning 22 August 2022, and conclude Labor Day weekend. This will allow time for the results to be analyzed and then folded into the Pastoral Plans along with the synodal reports. At the next DPC meeting on 3 December 2022, the members will conclude their review of the Diocesan-level Pastoral Plan in terms of going into next year.

V. Advance Look at Pastoral Plan 2023:
Bishop McKnight stated that the current phase of the Pastoral Plan will conclude about this time next year, but that he would like the members to begin thinking about future efforts. Although the Synod of Bishops will meet in October 2023, and will likely encourage a diocesan response, Bishop McKnight suggested the DPC members focus on what is already being done and continue to move ahead. The three areas he would like to continue to see developed are:

  1. Hospitality
  2. Lay Formation – Both the formation of the young by looking at the health of our schools and religious education programs, but especially adult faith formation by looking at the offices of acolyte, lector, and catechists that are now open to the laity. There will need to be diocesan-wide opportunities for fulfilling the requirements thus preparing the laity for these offices; this will need to be addressed in 2024.
  3. Leadership Development – In addition to our clergy, and in accordance with the Second Vatican Council, we know we will be dependent on trained laity to help fill some gaps. There are charisms and gifts of the laity that need to be better utilized.

Bishop McKnight asked the members for their immediate reactions; discussion followed with an emphasis on the importance of hospitality and the role of parish schools/youth formation. He then stated that he is considering a diocesan synod as a major decision-making discernment event to provide significant results in guiding the three leading points of the Pastoral Plan. Ben Roodhouse further clarified that a diocesan synod, composed of broad representation from around the diocese, is a lawmaking function of the bishop designed to address specific questions within a diocese. After a series of sessions, the synod representatives provide the bishop with a document of suggestions he can use to more effectively advance the mission of the diocese.

Discussion followed regarding initial options for questions to be addressed at a diocesan synod. Bishop McKnight suggested the following topics:

  1. Leadership Development – How could we utilize the permanent diaconate more effectively in the mission of diocese and among the parishes? Also, norms or laws could be established to require Pastoral Councils for parishes, including how they would be constituted and utilized.
  2. Formation/Lay Formation – The development of an institute for foundational catechetical formation.

Further discussion will be held at the next meeting regarding the scope of the next pastoral planning process, which could incorporate a diocesan synod in 2024.

VI. Deanery Strategic Pastoral Plan 2023 Process:
Bishop McKnight stated that each deanery will propose a process for strategic planning regarding the use and alignment of parish resources to help their communities thrive in the faith and mission of the church. The October parish leadership deanery meetings will focus on the development of this process for each deanery.

Bishop McKnight concluded this approach for strategic planning is important for three reasons:

  1. A process that works for one region may not work for another.
  2. Parishes must take ownership in discerning the problem and what should be done going forward.
  3. The process should not begin with deciding which parishes to close or merge and what their Mass schedule should be.
    He further stated that this process, led by the dean, must be guided by what the mission is as a parish and as a group of parishes, and then determine what is needed to be successful. It will then be presented by the end of the year so it may be conducted during the first half of 2023. The staff at the Chancery will be available to assist with the process however is needed. The goal of the process is to encourage and not to fear losing the little communities when working with the larger parishes. We want to encourage cooperation for better programing and services that the Church is providing to its own people.

VII. Role of Deans:
Rev. Msgr. Robert Kurwicki stated that the role of the deans is being shifted from primarily a title to an active pastoral participant with the diocese in order to increase communications from the local parish level to the diocese and visa versa. The deans also will have an increased local leadership role and responsibilities within their deanery serving not only the priests but the whole of the parish communities. The deans are to set an example of co-responsibility with their Diocesan Pastoral Council representative to mirror the relationship of pastors and their pastoral council chair.

Discussion followed regarding the additional role of the DPC representative as a point of contact for any pastoral council chair as well as noting the option to work with Denise Barnes, Director of Parish Services.

VIII. Catholic Rural Life:
Mrs. LeAnn Korsmeyer reported a plan to re-establish a diocesan chapter of Catholic Rural Life:

  1. To provide support and leadership development for pastors serving in rural areas.
  2. To provide lay formation to promote and enhance opportunities for those in rural areas.
  3. And by 2023, to provide a training retreat for deacons to become leaders within the chapter.

Bishop McKnight stated that he is looking for a permanent deacon to be the lead in establishing and developing the chapter. He then invited interested members to be involved in the founding committee which will help organize, promote, and implement the chapter.

Discussion followed. Bishop McKnight clarified the chapter will have a primarily pastoral rather than policy focus to honor and celebrate the diocese’s rural character.

IX. Cathedral Update:
Bishop McKnight reported that the Cathedral renovations are still in process, but the anticipated re-dedication date of 30 January 2023, has been moved back. The current occupancy date is now 17 February 2023, with a potential re-dedication date in March. After the re-dedication, parish pilgrimages will be organized as well as a history book published to promote the Cathedral as the diocese’s mother church and highlight why this is important for the whole diocese. Bishop McKnight further emphasized that none of the funding for this project is coming from parish collections, but was offered by the priests, deacons, and other individuals as good stewards of the faith.

X. Publication of DPC Minutes:
Mr. Roodhouse stated that in an effort to publish the minutes in a timelier manner, once completed they will be sent to the members for review, approval, and publication prior to the next meeting.

XI. Future Meeting Dates:
Future meetings will be held on 3 December 2022, 29 April 2023, 5 August 2023, and 2 December 2023.

XII. Bishop Remarks:
Bishop McKnight stated he had no further remarks.

XIII. Closing prayer:
Bishop McKnight closed the meeting with prayer.

Approved 4 November 2022