The Disciple Maker Index Survey that we filled out in late January and early February is just the beginning of our process of revitalization for our diocese.
Over the coming months, we’ll all get the chance to hear and reflect on the survey results. More importantly, we’ll be asked to share our own thoughts on how to develop parishes which are active communities of disciples. That means communities marked by lively and growing faith, as well as a commitment to share the Good News with others.
This column is just one of the ways the survey results will be shared with parishioners in every community. We want everybody to think about and discuss the results, including individuals, pastoral councils, finance and administration councils, religious formation and other services or ministry groups.
The results show the strengths and needs of each community. Putting this in the context of the whole diocese, we can see where we fit in the bigger picture and how we’re called to develop as better disciples, growing in faith and sharing the Gospel with others.
Over the next 7 to 8 months, we’ll follow the process that began with the Disciple Maker Index Survey. It helps to know what that process is and to know that every single person in the diocese can be involved. We all, laity and clergy, have a part to play in this process of revitalization.
The first stage began with the setting up of three workgroups, one for each region of our diocese: Miramichi, Fredericton and Saint John. Each workgroup included about 8 people, both laity and clergy. They met monthly for the past four months.
Each of the regional workgroups was asked to develop 2 to 4 models of parish life for their region. To do this, they used the results of the Disciple Maker Survey as well as a survey taken by the priests of our diocese. They also considered other data such as demographic and financial information, the activity levels and needs of parishes and the spiritual and faith vibrancy of their regions.
The process of revitalization will continue into the new year with a number of efforts to engage people and get their feedback. In February, 2017, the priests of the diocese will meet to study and reflect on the models that have been offered for each of the regions and to offer their input.
In April, 2017, a series of consultations (two in each region) will take place, inviting the people of our parish communities to give their input and suggestions on the models of parish life that have been proposed.
Through May and June, the feedback will be considered as the final suggested models are prepared for presentation to the Bishop. By the end of June, the recommended plan for revitalization and realignment of our diocese should be in the hands of the Bishop and ready to put into action.
This process is based on the Diocesan Pastoral Plan that was published in 2012, after more than four years of work. The Plan called for a revitalization that would enliven the whole church in our area and enable us to leave a legacy of faith for future generations. May God’s loving Spirit guide us and direct us on our way.