Minutes of Diocesan Pastoral Council | 8.5.2023
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, President
Rev. Msgr. Robert A. Kurwicki, Vicar General – ex-officio
Rev. Msgr. Gregory L. Higley, Judicial Vicar – ex-officio
Benjamin Roodhouse, Chancellor – ex-officio
Jacob Luecke, Director of Communications – ex-officio
Helen Osman, Consultant for Communications
Rev. Jeremy A. Secrist, Presbyterate – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Barbara Prasad, Dir. of Women’s Ministry – 1st term expires: 22 November 2025
Barbara Garvey, North Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Sarah Robinson, Central Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Kelly Wheeler, Central Deanery – 1st term expires: 30 June 2024
Kent Korthas, Southwest Deanery – 1st term expires: 30 June 2024
Colleen Abbott, Southwest Deanery – 1st term expires: 27 February 2026
Russell Kremer, Southeast Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Sheri Stormer, Southeast Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Earl Pabst, See City Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Deacon John Schwartze, See City Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Carol Schwartze, See City Deanery – 2nd term expires: 30 June 2024
Bernadette Adams, Recording Secretary
I. Opening Prayer:
Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight opened the meeting with prayer.
Bishop McKnight welcomed the members and reviewed their term expiration dates.
III. Minutes Published:
The minutes of the 29 April 2023, meeting, having been approved by the membership on 20 July 2023, are published on the diocesan website: diojeffcity.org/councils.
IV. Updated Statutes and Election of Officers:
Bishop McKnight presented the final statutes and noted that the election of a Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson will take place during the December meeting, this is the fall meeting stated in the statutes. [UPDATE: The fall meeting will be held on 11 November 2023; elections will take place at this time.] These offices carry a two-year term, but since many of the members’ terms are expiring next year, it may be necessary to extend the elected officers’ membership by a year.
Helen Osman asked about the preferences for filling the current vacancies for a representative from the Newman Centers and a second representative from the North Deanery. Bishop McKnight stated he is still waiting on recommendations from the Dean, and suggested adding this item to the agenda of the next Parish Leadership meeting of the North Deanery. Ben Roodhouse restated the option to have the Directors of the Newman Centers recommend a representative from among their student council leadership, rotating representation among the centers a much as possible.
V. Deanery Pastoral Planning:
The members provided status updates regarding the progress of their deanery plans:
A. Southwest Deanery – Colleen Abbott reported that since the last DPC meeting the deanery survey has concluded and townhall meetings at the parish grouping level were held to discuss the results of the survey. The deanery leadership were then able to further develop and clarify the objectives of the deanery. Kent Korthas discussed the 3-phase implementation plan.
B. Southeast Deanery – Sheri Stormer defined the deanery’s timelines of the short, mid-term, and long-term plans. She reported on the deanery-wide goals and those to be implemented by the individual parishes as well as additional tools and resources that will be developed to further the overall deanery plan. Russell Kremer stated that the parish coalition approach has been very successful within the deanery; he is seeing the parishes of the deanery growing and working together through this process.
C. Central Deanery – Sarah Robinson reported that the deanery leadership has collected a lot of data, but are still in the process of holding townhall meetings. She also noted experiencing resistance in some parishes that are not ready to join a parish grouping. In response to this, the deanery leadership is meeting with individual parishes as needed. Parish groups that are working together have begun forming plans and to assist with their short- and mid-term planning, the deanery leadership developed a simple form to help focus their goals. Kelly Wheeler stated that some parishes are working through individual concerns before joining a group while others have formed groupings and are ready to begin sharing resources. She also noted that geography is influencing the parishes’ needs and their extent of participation.
D. See City Deanery – Deacon John Schwartze reported that a number of meetings have been held and it was determined to proceed primarily with deanery-wide programing. Parish groupings will be utilized, but because of the small geographic size of the deanery, the initial attention will be put toward rolling out programs and projects to all the parishes at the same time. In order to prioritize their opportunities, one or two programs will be focused on at a time to concentrate their energies on quick, success, and wins, then move on to the next program. Earl Pabst stated that this was a significant change from their preliminary planning approach.
E. North Deanery – Barbara Garvey stated that their last deanery meeting was cancelled so there is little to report. Surveys have been distributed, but the results are not yet collected. There has been some collaboration among parishes for a variety of youth activities. She is hoping to have more information after their next meeting.
Discussion followed regarding common themes coming out of the deaneries’ planning process. Bishop McKnight observed that the synodal process is working and is a healthy sign of the direction we are going as a diocese. He is seeing parishioners’ “untapped reservoir” of desire for reshaping our Church coming out through the deanery planning and implementation processes.
Bishop McKnight also hears the principle of subsidiarity coming from the deaneries. To respond to the desire for better liturgical formation and formation of our catechists, the diocese could identify leaders of given areas and “train-the-trainer” to go back to the parishes.
An area of concern that has been indicated is the reluctance, or even resistance, to travel for Mass or other parish functions. In contrast, parents and youth are willing to travel great distances to participate in sports clubs. The appropriate allocation of resources as well as formation centered around the sacraments and the liturgy will help reframe parishioners’ perceptions and understanding of their baptismal responsibilities.
Rev. Msgr. Gregory Higley shared his and other pastors’ concerns of the difficulty, sometime divisiveness, of working with personal agendas within a parish council and now this difficulty is expanded outside the parish. People have learned to be loyal to their parish so much so that it can be very difficult for pastors to assist people in changing their way of thinking and better understand the bishop’s vision for the diocese. Rev. Jeremy Secrist included that the sense of community felt by many parishioners centered on a particular Mass time can also hinder the understanding of what it is to be part of a greater faith community. Both pastors noted that listening and collaborating with other parishes has been a great opportunity to begin the process of changing the mindset of resistant parishioners.
Bishop McKnight stated that an article in The Catholic Missourian to discuss the various resources and processes used during the deaneries’ pastoral plan development and implementation would be very beneficial to the whole diocese. He would like to see interviews of deanery leadership sharing their journey and what is working within their deanery.
VI. Conclusion of Diocesan Pastoral Plan:
Bishop McKnight stated that as the present Diocesan Pastoral Plan is promulgated he will likely issue a pastoral letter to conclude the process and indicate where we will go from here. He also noted that he is hoping to have a formal promulgation of the Deanery Pastoral Plans at the next Chrism Mass.
VII. National Eucharistic Revival Update:
A. Pilgrimage – Mr. Roodhouse reviewed the pilgrimage route through the diocese and the general schedule of activities during each stopover. He and Bishop McKnight noted that many of the logistics and particular activities are still being developed, but there are a lot of potential opportunities for youth as well as opportunities for catechesis at all levels.
B. Congress – Bishop McKnight stated that he has reserved 50 tickets, 15 of which he will need to set aside. The remaining 35 will be divided among representatives from the five deaneries and will have a cross-section of priests, deacons, religious, as well as the laity. Consideration for ticket allotment may include weighing the number of representatives to the Catholic population of the respective deaneries. The question was raised regarding the expectation of the representatives, how will they bring the spirit of the congress back to share with the diocese?
Discussion followed regarding ways to gather together all diocesan representatives at the congress, including those purchasing their own tickets. Suggestions included hosting a lunch on a particular day, designating a hotel for everyone to stay at, and chartering a bus to the congress.
VIII. Bishop’s Remarks:
For the members’ information, Bishop McKnight shared additional matters he is currently considering:
The traditional Latin Mass community in the Southeast Deanery would like more opportunities to celebrate in this way and has asked about obtaining a traditional Latin Mass priest to come into the diocese. Bishop McKnight is considering the church in Wellsville as a location for regular celebrations of the Latin Mass if a priest from outside the diocese is engaged.
Both of the sites used for this summer’s youth camps have been deemed unsuitable for future use. There is a property just north of Mexico, in Audrain County, that is a relatively central location for the diocese and is being considered for use as a diocesan retreat center and other events, in addition to the youth camps. Mrs. Garvey shared, via Zoom chat, that the old St. Francis Hospital building in Marceline, Linn County, is still for sale and may be worth considering as an option for a parish or diocesan multi-use facility.
The National Shrine in Laurie, Morgan County, desires to increase their activity. Bishop McKnight has asked for a conference center, or something similar, so they can offer more programming. Building a small motel is also being considered to provide year-round lodging near the shrine.
As the idea of a Catechetical Institute is developed, Bishop McKnight envisions having a core curriculum of a set number of courses taught by qualified, trained theologians and catechists. This institute would provide core training for the aspirant level of diaconate formation as well as the basic formation for all the lay ecclesial ministries, each having their own track.
Bishop McKnight noted that the use of resources for all of the above considerations would need to be approached strategically and efficiently and probably come out of a larger discernment process from the deaneries to the diocesan level.
Some parish locations around the diocese have a history of sponsoring refugee families. Bishop McKnight would like to see this sponsorship reemerge as a way for parishes, or coalitions of parishes, to augment what is already being done through Catholic Charities.
Finally, Bishop McKnight announced that the parish in Clarence has formally requested to unite with the parish in Shelbina. Mr. Roodhouse commended Rev. R. William Peckman, pastor of these parishes, for his handling and guidance of the process.
IX. Concluding prayer:
Bishop McKnight closed the meeting with prayer.
Bernadette Adams, Recording Secretary
Future Meeting Dates:
11 November 2023
Minutes approved: 3 November 2023.