Parish Catalyst is a creative leadership learning community collaborating with 11 other leadership teams from across the United States. Sharing best practices with these parishes, as well as instruction and insight from prominent leaders in the Catholic Church, the goal of Parish Catalyst is to imagine and stretch current visions of ministry and to develop and implement a specific strategic plan with a core goal of intentional discipleship.
“Parish Catalyst has already made a difference in the parish,” said Father Joe Ring, pastor of Christ the King (CTK)Parish in Springfield. “We have returned from each conference to share our work with other staff and the Parish Council. Its impact will direct for several months.”
Father Ring, Linda Younkin, director of music, and I attended the session in Culver City, Calif., in mid-July. It was the final session of four of the 18-month project that began in January 2016. Each session contained the elements of prayer, education, dialogue, input from parishes from across the country and fellowship. The goal at each session was to come up with a two-year strategic plan and then to work on implementation of the plan by coming up with a six-month plan with measurable goals, action steps, point people and a target completion date.
Each parish plan was scrutinized by a group of other parishes so that all could learn from each other and share insight and creative solutions. Coming together every six months to re-evaluate and take another step forward kept energy and vision on a high level.
It was an experience of truth mixed with loving kindness and very difficult work. It was an intentional amount of time set aside to dream, work together as a team and have honest dialogue about “what is, what could be, and what will be.” Camaraderie was high as we realized that all across the United States, parishes of different sizes and shapes are working on the same issues as we are; discipleship, stewardship, reaching our young people, evangelization, outreach, and how to minister in a world where everyone seems to be stuck on fast forward. It was good to share and think outside the box.
Our CTK group thanks the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois for supporting this project through a grant it received from the Harvest of Thanks, Springtime of Hope campaign.