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Agencies see change with new fiscal year

By Randy A. Grosse
The Catholic Voice

New Director
Office of Religious Formation

Name: Father Matthew Gutowski
Hometown/Parish: Omaha, Blessed Sacrament
Seminary: Kenrick-Glennon, St. Louis.
Graduate Studies: John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family
Previous Parish Assignments: Christ the King, St. Robert Bellarmine, both in Omaha
Other Assignments: Faculty at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Recent changes at two archdiocesan offices mean a new director for one agency and a new name and expanded role for another.

Father Matthew Gutowski is in his second month as the new director of the Office of Religious Formation, the office focused on all areas of faith formation – youth ministry, young adults, adult ministry, religious education, college ministry and others.

The Office of Stewardship and Development officially became in the Office of Stewardship, Planning and Development with the start of the fiscal year in July. The planning role was transferred to the office earlier this year after the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council meeting in April.

Father Gutowski, ordained in 1988, returns to the archdiocese after spending the last five years on the faculty at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He replaced Jim Corr as religious formation director. He is in residence at St. Adalbert Parish and serves both that parish and Our Lady of Lourdes.

An administrative position with a church agency is much different than the academic world of the seminary, Father Gutowski said, but he's looking forward to the work. Being back involved with regular parish work also is very appealing, he said.

In St. Louis, he helped at area parishes, but couldn't establish a relationship with one or two. "It's good to be back in the parish, but it's not my main job," he said.

His first few weeks on the job at the religious formation office focused on the budget for the new fiscal year. He's also learning about the office and the role it plays as a faith formation resource for "the folks in the parishes," he said. "I'm looking at what's going on … at what we do."

That assessment will include considering what his office can do better for pastors and parishes throughout the archdiocese.

As with other archdiocesan offices, geography poses a significant challenge, even though some religious formation staff members are in the rural area, Father Gutowski said. "We need to look at what we can do to make things more accessible."

One possibility is offering some programs through the internet. He said he's open to any technological ways to reach out to people, but we "need to maintain a person presence."

He hopes to establish an adult faith formation council to help guide faith formation programs. He said he will use a U.S. bishops' document – "Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us" – and Roman and U.S. directories on catechesis as resources for the council.

While he'll focus on accessing current activities and needs, Father Gutowski said he's open to making changes now if that's what is needed. But he might change the name for his office.

The new director said he prefers including "faith formation" in the name, instead of religious formation. Religious formation leads some to believe the office works with religious orders, he said.

'A good fit'

Adding the archdiocesan planning role to her office seems to be "a good fit," said Judy Tamisiea, executive director of the agency now called the Office of Stewardship, Planning and Development.

"Planning is grounded in stewardship," Tamisiea said. "When you talk about one, you can't help but talk about the other one."

Tim McNeil, stewardship and planning officer, will direct the planning efforts, working with both the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and parish pastoral councils. But the planning work, like everything else in her office, will be a team effort, Tamisiea said.

"We're a very structured office with our year planned well in advance," she said. "Now we just incorporate the planning function into that schedule."

Joyce Murray, who served as coordinator of pastoral councils in the former planning office, also has joined the staff. "She brings us the history of the office, a sense of what has been done and what that can mean for what we should be doing," Tamisiea said.

For now, Tamisiea said members of the staff are taking a look at that history, including the results of the 2004 Synod. "I would think the planning role will be very similar, but change is always possible," she said. "We just want to be service-oriented, both in our support of parishes and church institutions."

Tamisiea calls the added responsibilities "exciting for her office and the archdiocese."

"We're looking forward and laying the groundwork for the future."

The Catholic Voice

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