Minutes of Diocesan Pastoral Council | 4.29.2023

Present — Term Expires:
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, President
Rev. Msgr. Robert A. Kurwicki, V.G.
Rev. Jason T. Doke, Moderator of the Curia
Ben Roodhouse, Chancellor
Helen Osman, Consultant for Communications
Jacob Luecke, Director of Communications  
Rev. Jeremy A. Secrist, Presbyterate – second term: 30 June 2024
Barbara Prasad, Dir. of Women’s Ministry – first term: 22 November 2025
Barbara Garvey, North Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Sarah Robinson, Central Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Kelly Wheeler, Central Deanery – first term: 30 June 2024
Kent Korthas, Southwest Deanery – first term: 30 June 2024
Colleen Abbott, Southwest Deanery – first term: 27 February 2026
Russell Kremer, Southeast Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Sheri Stormer, Southeast Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Earl Pabst, See City Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Deacon John Schwartze, See City Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Carol Schwartze, See City Deanery – second term: 30 June 2024
Bernadette Adams, Recording Secretary 

Absent — Term Expires:
Rev. Msgr. Gregory L. Higley, Judicial Vicar

Guest Presenter(s):

I. Opening Prayer:

Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight opened the meeting with prayer and welcomed the newest member of the council.

II. Minutes Published:

The minutes of the 3 December 2022, meeting, having been approved by the membership on 9 March 2023, are published on the Diocesan website:

III. Deanery Pastoral Planning:

Bishop McKnight asked the council members for a status of the planning processes within their deaneries. Sheri Stormer reported that although the timeline for the Southeast Deanery is behind schedule, they are moving forward with the collection of data using surveys from Helen Osman. Russell Kremer further reported that while his portion of the Southeast Deanery is meeting regularly, some of the parishes have been slow to fully respond to the process. For those parishes that are responding, the results have been great as they begin to cooperate and contribute. Kent Korthas stated that he was very pleased with the process of the Southwest Deanery. They had an excellent cross-section of expertise representing each aspect of the pastoral plan and the input was so significant that they had to pare down the outcomes to three primary goals. Colleen Abbott stated that the Southwest Deanery has a good number of responses from their survey and will move forward with follow up meetings of the parish groupings to assess the results. Sarah Robinson reported that she and Kelly Wheeler are working with a Central Deanery committee to undertake the process as a whole deanery. The surveys will be assessed in a follow up committee meeting and their next deanery meeting will be used to meet with representatives from parish clusters that are currently not represented on the committee. The greater representation there is, especially from outside the Columbia parishes, the more beneficial the next steps of the process will be. Earl Pabst asked the members how the results of their parish surveys fit with the parish pastoral plans. Mrs. Wheeler responded that they will be reviewing the data from the parish surveys and comparing them with the self-assessments and pastoral plan reviews that had also been conducted recently to determine commonalities which will be incorporated into their three-year plan. Mr. Korthas also responded that most of their survey questions were directed specifically to the three outcomes ensuring that all of the parishes were guided to and focused on the same topics. Barbara Garvey stated that the dean of the North Deanery is developing their survey and prayer resources to be distributed in the near future. Their last deanery meeting was very well attended, exceeding expectations, and although the parish groupings have not met formally, the parishioners are beginning to work together naturally. Mr. Pabst reported that the See City Deanery has reworked their plan and split into parish clusters. He also stated that rather than using surveys they intend to hold in-person meetings of the clusters to determine the needs of the parishes then identify the commonalities in the plan at the deanery level. 

Mrs. Wheeler stated that the Central Deanery has struggled to organize parish clusters and has received pushback from some parishes that do not want to be in a cluster. Bishop McKnight told the council that the purpose of the deanery level pastoral planning is to help planning both at the diocesan level and to help the individual parishes. Deanery level planning was also presented as a challenge to individual parishes – those who cooperated with their sister parishes and were engaged in this process would receive the investment of diocesan resources. Those parishes that choose not to follow this process will default to the diocese making decisions for them. It is important for the council members to be aware that there may be parishes that do not identify as belonging to a larger church and are resistant to cooperating. Bishop McKnight reminded the members to go where their help will be accepted. The other point to this process is to uncover unrealized or unknown needs of the parishes and better identify which sister parishes to work with to address those needs, even if natural alliances are in another deanery. 

IV. Parish Leadership Deanery Meetings:

A. Lack of Parish Leadership Participation?

Mrs. Stormer reported that the Southeast Deanery has had good participation from leadership within the deanery. Mr. Korthas stated that the Southwest Deanery had excellent attendance and participation at the most recent meeting. Mrs. Abbott further stated that recent parish leadership turnover may have been a contributing factor to the increase in participation. She also recommended that parishes continually discuss the plan so new leadership are familiar with where they are in the process. Mr. Korthas added that they keep the timetable of their meeting goals pretty tight which helps create and maintain active participation. Mrs. Osman mentioned that the Deans recently requested assistance from the diocese in maintaining parish leadership contact lists. Bishop McKnight added that the Deans observed a low participation rate in parishes where the pastors are not following through with the relay of information. The decision made at the last Council of Deans meeting was that the deans would obtain meeting information and the diocese would disseminate it to the parish contacts; Mrs. Osman asked the council to provide parish leadership contact lists. Mrs. Robinson reported that their last deanery meeting had the highest attendance for two reasons, 1) the meeting included finance leadership to discuss Stewardship changes and 2) many parishes understood that those who participate in the process will receive the support of the diocese. 

B. Visual/Audio Equipment at a Central Location

Mrs. Stormer reported that the Southeast Deanery has chosen to meet in-person at various parishes throughout the deanery rather than at one central location, but noted this has been both a benefit and a challenge. Mrs. Osman asked what resources the diocese could provide to help address these challenges. Mrs. Stormer replied that because internet access in many rural areas is its own challenge, the parish leadership prefers to travel for in-person meetings. Mr. Korthas stated that the majority of the meetings of the Southwest Deanery have been held via Zoom. Mrs. Robinson reported that Columbia is a great central location for their deanery and the technology infrastructure is suitable, but the in-person attendance at the last meeting was so great that the parish space was not large enough. 

V. Updated Statutes:

Bishop McKnight referred to the draft statutes noting that additional edits can still be made. The statutes will be in effect at the next meeting and officers will be elected in accordance to Article IV. He then reviewed the executive structure of the council: The Bishop is the President who convokes, who sets the agenda, and controls what kind of communication flows out from this body publicly or to others. The Chairperson facilitates the running of the meeting by being a point of contact to the members and assisting the President in setting the agenda. The Vice-Chairperson stands in for the Chairperson when the Chairperson is absent. The Executive Secretary is an appointed position and does not need to be a member of the council. 

Mr. Pabst asked whether there should be included in the statutes a process regarding decision making. Ben Roodhouse stated that there is no canonical requirement for the council to make decisions; the purpose of this council is to assist the Bishop in his decision making primarily by providing him information and on occasion making recommendations. The addition of a decision-making process will be added under Article III, Section 7.

Regarding Membership of the council, Mrs. Stormer brought up the challenge of getting Newman Center representatives to participate in meetings. Understanding the importance of youth in the Church, she asked if there was a way to demonstrate the value of the DPC meetings so they will want to attend. Discussion followed regarding the challenges of identifying and maintaining student representatives. Bishop McKnight stated that it should be a priority of the deans to consider young adults as deanery representatives in addition to recommending them as Newman Center representatives. Mr. Roodhouse reminded the council that the Bishop has the ability to appoint other members as he sees fit and suggested that pastors and deans recommend young adults directly to the Bishop for consideration of membership on the council. Mrs. Abbott asked if there is a formal structure of student leadership at the Newman Centers that could include DPC representation as a responsibility of the student chair or vice-chair. If the Newman Center pastors can confirm there is a structured student leadership council, Mr. Roodhouse stated he could modify the statutes to reflect this representation option. 

VI. Naming Policy:

Mr. Roodhouse introduced the draft Naming Policy that was developed to guide parish and diocesan leadership in naming facilities. The policy is not restricted to requests made by donors to name buildings, but discusses the parameters regarding any decision to name a facility. The intention of the policy is to avoid the need of removing a name from a facility at a later date due to disrepute. The recommendation from the Presbyteral Council was to not allow an individual’s name, but to use only the family name; for clarification, facilities that are currently named for individuals will not need to be renamed, the policy will apply to the future naming of facilities. 

Bishop McKnight stated that there will be an adjustment to Section 4: Additional Regulation, to clarify that this is the primary policy and individual parishes and schools may have policies that go into greater detail, but they must be in accord with this policy. He then asked the members of the council for their reaction and input. The members gave positive input and support for the policy. Bishop McKnight further explained there is one exception – individual names may be used to temporarily name a room, gym, street, etc. as an auction item for a fundraiser. 

VII. National Eucharistic Revival:

A. Pilgrimage Through the Diocese in June/July 2024

Mr. Roodhouse reported that he is the diocesan contact for the National Eucharistic Revival to be held in Indianapolis in July 2024. Among the activities leading up to the revival will be four Eucharistic processions beginning in different parts of the country and meeting in Indianapolis for the start of the revival; one of the processions, the Serra Route, will be travelling through our diocese. The processions will consist of two priests, two seminarians and ten young adults stopping each day in a new parish. The basic agenda will entail the group arriving in the evening and participating in a parish-hosted eucharistic devotion, then in the morning there will be Mass and the group will depart the parish by leading a solemn procession for one mile. 

Mr. Roodhouse shared a map of the diocese and reported that the Serra Route is expected to arrive in the diocese on the evening of 1 July 2024, and make their first stop at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Sedalia. Using the Katy Trail as an established route, their second stop is anticipated to be Ss. Peter & Paul in Boonville, on the evening of 2 July. On the evening of 3 July, the group will arrive at the Cathedral of St. Joseph and will remain in Jefferson City for the 4th of July. Bishop McKnight mentioned including St. Peter Parish in the Jefferson City stop-over by offering activities in conjunction with the Salute to America celebration that will occur downtown. Departing on the morning of 5 July, the pilgrims will stop at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Starkenburg for Mass at noon before continuing on to the Archdiocese of St. Louis. 

Among the many travel logistics to determine there are also spiritual logistics to consider, namely how to use this national event as an opportunity to get people back to Mass. Bishop McKnight stated that he would like to see catechetical events at each of the stations in our portion of the pilgrimage. He also mentioned that there is significant ability to modify the basic schedule of the procession to include a number of activities and diocesan groups, specifying the need to include the youth of the diocese. 

B. National Eucharistic Congress

Mr. Roodhouse reported that the diocese has reserved 50 tickets to the National Eucharistic Congress to be held 17-21 July, 2024, in Indianapolis; he opened the discussion regarding options for distributing the tickets to diocesan representatives. Bishop McKnight clarified that the diocese would absorb the cost of the tickets to the congress, but that individuals would be responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses. One suggestion was to allocate a certain number of tickets per deanery allowing an even representation of priests, deacons, and laity from each diocesan region. 

VIII. Universal Synod Update:

Mrs. Osman stated that the Holy Father has asked everyone to celebrate a moment of prayer on 31 May 2023, for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bishop McKnight stated the parishes will use the concluding prayer for the prayers of the faithful of this feast on the Sunday before Pentecost, but on Memorial Day he will celebrate the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church at the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church in Laurie as the diocesan observance of the Feast of the Visitation. Mrs. Osman further stated this observance is to entrust the Synod process to Mary, Mother of our Church. 

Mrs. Osman reported that for the first time in recent history, up to 25% of voting members of the Synod process are not bishops and that the universal document to be discussed in October is currently being written. Bishop McKnight stated that synods have always included laity, but after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI created the Synod of Bishops as an innovative permanent office in the Vatican. He clarified that it is this group that is including non-bishop voting members for this process. 

IX: Bishop’s Remarks:

Bishop McKnight stated that at the conclusion of the Synod on Synodality in October 2024, there is the expectation that dioceses will conduct their own synods; the last one held by our diocese was in 1957. In anticipation of this expectation and as we continue with our pastoral planning processes, the bishop recommended to begin “laying the tracks” for preparing for a diocesan synod to be held in probably 2024-2025. Bishop McKnight would like to see the diocesan synod be a natural outcome of the pastoral planning process and reported that the Council of Deans suggested the synod be about Stewardship. By the time our synod would be held, we will have experience with this form of Stewardship and it could be an opportunity to have certain things codified in diocesan law. He also hopes the experience of the synod process would be an opportunity for us to discern better as a Church and not just function as a parliamentary organization. Bishop McKnight asked the council to think about the general themes to focus people’s attention on in preparation for the synod. 

Discussion followed regarding the outcomes of the 1957 Diocesan Synod. Bishop McKnight stated that he anticipates the upcoming synod will focus on the areas of Spirituality of Stewardship, Co-Responsibility, and Parishes as Centers of Charity and Mercy, to discuss what matters should be taken further, and follow a structured process to determine how and what should be considered for diocesan law. 

Rev. Jason Doke asked for clarification on what the synodal process would look like and how long it would take. Bishop McKnight stated the specific sessions are dependent on what is needed, but usually there is a long preparation period and the deliberation takes place during the synod, both in the context of prayer and sessions that can take place over a few days as well as a series of sessions that take place over a period of months. Fr. Doke then asked who would be expected to participate? Mr. Roodhouse stated the specific people/groups that are to be summoned as members and obliged to participate. He further clarified what the members of the synod could expect from the structured sessions including discussing particular topics, developing texts to be proposed, debated, voted on, then recommended to the bishop for his decision of whether or not it becomes law. 

Additional discussion followed regarding the roles and natural integration of the various councils – pastoral, finance, and stewardship – within a parish and in parishes that share a pastor.

Bishop McKnight discussed the plan regarding the banner procession for the Cathedral Rededication Mass. Each deanery has a processional banner with its deanery symbol that will be carried by a deanery representative from the council. He asked that the banner-bearer test the weight of the banner to ensure it will not be a problem for the procession. Jacob Luecke reviewed the diocesan symbols and provided an overview of the rededication events. 

Bishop McKnight provided the opportunity for the council members to ask questions or give comments about the announcement released regarding the results of Rev. Ignazio Medina’s Church trial. He added that the Diocesan Finance Council have recommended two individuals to be points of contact for reporting fraud within the Church and outlined the basic process for how reports will be addressed. 

X: Concluding Prayer:

Bishop McKnight closed the meeting with prayer.

Future Meeting Dates:

5 August 2023
2 December 2023