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Archbishop, faithful revisit pastoral vision

Living out the pastoral vision of the Archdiocese of Omaha – “One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, and living mercy” – was the focus of two recent meetings involving Archbishop George J. Lucas and members of his flock.

On Oct. 5, more than 55 members of parishes around the archdiocese joined the archbishop in West Point to share their experiences and the spiritual fruits gained through their attendance at ArchOmaha Unite.

That June 8 event drew more than 7,000 people to Omaha’s CHI Health Center on the eve of Pentecost to celebrate their Catholic faith and to call down a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church of northeast Nebraska.

A key outgrowth of the pastoral vision, ArchOmaha Unite aimed to foster and celebrate unity.

“We identified a priority to create a culture of unity in the archdiocese,” the archbishop said during opening remarks at the West Point listening session. “We’re far flung, we’re sometimes separated by generations, by geography, by culture, by language, yet we know it’s in the heart of Jesus that there’s only one church.”

During the session, participants discussed in small groups, then shared with the full group, aspects of ArchOmaha Unite that most moved their hearts, their hopes and prayers for the church and their parishes, and how they’ve been inspired to more fully live out the pastoral vision.

Comments included the need for the laity to become more involved in evangelization and to go beyond talking and to take action. One participant said: “The three prongs of the vision are verbs. It requires doing something.”

Five days later, 19 people, including priests, deacons, parish and school leaders, and archdiocesan officials, joined the archbishop for a daylong working session to dive more deeply into the pastoral vision and future actions towards its achievement.

Discussions were led by Jim Luisi of the Catholic Leadership Institute of Wayne, Pennsylvania, who helped develop the pastoral vision and priorities in 2016. The group reviewed progress and explored ways to further implement the vision’s priorities.

That included evaluating the work done thus far to help Catholics encounter Jesus, to develop the faithful’s understanding of evangelization and an evangelization strategy for parishes, and to engage in outreach efforts to serve the poor, needy and suffering, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor for the archdiocese, who attended the session.

The group also brainstormed possible new goals and priorities.

“It was a process of everyone coming together to rally around the vision and the desire to carry forth the mission with new goals and objectives,” he said. “Within the next couple months we’ll have an updated plan to release.”

“It was good to spend the day with some of those who helped articulate the pastoral vision three years ago, along with some who have been helping to implement it in parishes and schools,” Archbishop Lucas said. “We were able to reaffirm the power of the vision, as well as to begin to identify specific areas where we can focus our efforts and resources.”