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Three teams begin groundwork in archdiocese’s pastoral vision plan

Three teams of about a dozen or more people each are beginning the groundwork for the Archdiocese of Omaha’s pastoral vision and priority plan – dedicated to determining what the archdiocese offers and laying out new ideas in the areas of evangelization and living God’s mercy, plus creating a culture of unity.

"We have begun to form teams to help us realize our short- and long-term goals, in support of the three pastoral priorities of the archdiocese," Archbishop George J. Lucas said. "I am grateful for all who are accepting the invitation to serve in this way in the months ahead."

Members of each team could change over time, depending on needs, said Deacon Stephen Luna, director of pastoral planning.

Announced in October, the archbishop’s initiative is built on eight listening sessions held in parishes across the archdiocese seeking a common vision. Those gatherings and nine focus group sessions were followed by an 11-member envisioning team meeting with the archbishop to fashion a vision statement and priority plan, which they summarized in the phrase: "One church, encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy."

The vision and plan is creating a sense of excitement around the archdiocese, Deacon Luna said. For example, many people expressed a desire to learn more about and effectively pass on the faith, and they have noted the response with gratitude, he said.

"It’s a direction for people to carry the mission of the church forward," Deacon Luna said.

The teams will assess current programs, study initiatives that have shown promise in parishes, schools and ministries in or outside of the archdiocese, and propose a menu of options and collaborative efforts. While specific programs might be offered, people should focus more on personal engagement in faith and action, the archbishop has said.

Goals under each priority call for implementing strategies by 2018 or earlier.

Father Jeffrey Lorig, pastor of St. Ludger Parish in Creighton and St. Ignatius Parish in Brunswick, and Jen Moser, coordinator of youth ministry and interim manager of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, are leading a team devoted to the pastoral vision’s call for creating a culture of encountering Jesus and equipping disciples.

Father Michael Eckley, pastor of St. Pius X Parish, and Ann Schumacher of St. Leo the Great Parish, both in Omaha, are coordinating the work of a team that will explore how parishes and other ministries in the archdiocese are meeting people’s needs and any gaps in living out God’s call to mercy.

Father Eckley and Schumacher also are members of the Catholic Charities board, which makes up most of the mercy team. At the same time, Catholic Charities, which is the charitable arm of the Archdiocese of Omaha, is mapping out a new strategic plan of its own, among other things exploring ways it can collaborate with the pastoral vision and plan, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor.

And Peter Kennedy, manager of Family Life Ministries in the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation, is leading the group dedicated to establishing a program to form and develop a diverse community of leaders who can promote unity. The group also will work on an archdiocesan-wide event designed to celebrate the unity and the diversity found in the Catholic faith.


Team members – some are on two teams – and their parishes, in Omaha unless noted:


Encountering Jesus and Equipping Disciples

Father Jeffrey Lorig, St. Ludger, Creighton and St. Ignatius, Brunswick; Jen Moser, Christ the King; Beth Carlson, St. Margaret Mary; Elizabeth Tomaso, St. Mary, Bellevue; Bryan Thiry, Sacred Heart, Boyd County; Lisa Hunke, St. Mary, West Point; Father Eliot Schwer, St. Patrick, Fremont; Will Targy, St. Mary, Bellevue; Christine French, Christ the King; Keith Jiron, St. Robert Bellarmine; Deacon Martin Smith, St. Margaret Mary; Mariana Flores-Chavez, Holy Rosary, Glenwood, Iowa.


Living in Mercy

Father Michael Eckley, St. Pius X; Ann Schumacher, St. Leo the Great; Omar Gutierrez, St. Peter; and these members of the Catholic Charities board: Bob Gunia, St. Thomas More; Don Heimes, St. Bonaventure, Columbus; Mary Theisen, St. Robert Bellarmine; John Griffith, St. Robert Bellarmine; Dan Burkey, Corpus Christi, Council Bluffs; Valerie Conzett, St. Margaret Mary; Steve Davidson, St. Margaret Mary; Margaret Haynes, Trinity Lutheran, Papillion; John Herdzina, Christ the King; James Honz, St. Wenceslaus; Mark Jaksich, St. Wenceslaus; John Kuehl, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; Anna Messersmith, Holy Cross; Martha Berenice Mora, Assumption Guadalupe; Jerry O’Flanagan, St. Wenceslaus; Sue Regan, St. John the Evangelist, Valley; Deacon Trung Nguyen, St. Leo the Great; Greg Van Dyke, St. Wenceslaus.


One Church

Peter Kennedy, St. James; Deacon Stephen Luna, St. Gerald, Ralston; Father Michael Eckley, St. Pius X; Karen Dwyer, St. Cecilia; Beth Carlson, St. Margaret Mary; Mark Nelson, St. Mary, Bellevue; Deacon Gregorio Elizalde, St. Peter; Keith Jiron, St. Robert Bellarmine; David Hazen, St. Bernard; Brandon Harvey, St. Peter; Father Paul Hoesing, priest of archdiocese assigned to Kenrick Glennon Seminary, St. Louis; Jessica Lynn Kary, apostolic oblate with the Pro Sanctity Movement near Elkhorn; Brother William Woeger, St. Cecilia; Don Blackbird, St. Augustine, Winnebago; James Carroll, St. Robert Bellarmine.

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