Teams shape archdiocese’s pastoral vision

Finding ways to help people encounter Christ through prayer, community and service is at the heart of the archdiocese’s pastoral vision and priority plan.

And three teams of a dozen or more people each have been meeting about once a month since the plan was announced in October to help put the vision into practice: the desire expressed by Archbishop George J. Lucas and others in the archdiocese to create "One church, encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy."

Goals for each team call for implementing strategies by next year or earlier.

"We’re well on our way," said Father Jeffrey Lorig, pastor of St. Ludger Parish in Creighton and St. Ignatius Parish in Brunswick, who is helping lead the team devoted to the call for creating a culture of encountering Christ and equipping disciples.

The team has studied the evangelization efforts of more than two dozen parishes from across the archdiocese, each with their own style, approach and programs, blessings and challenges, Father Lorig said.

They’ve studied and discussed various documents of the church and books, including "Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish" by Father James Mallon.

It’s too early to draw any conclusions, but some efforts to present the Gospel in fresh and attractive ways have been effective, including Christians Encounter Christ and Alpha, Father Lorig said. "There probably won’t be a cookie-cutter solution in the evangelization strategy," he said.

But leadership from pastors and teams of lay people will be important, as will remembering that evangelization – encountering Christ – isn’t about programs, Father Lorig said. "The strategy for evangelization will be more about building up people."

Building up people and creating leaders in parishes while promoting unity in the archdiocese is an important focus of a second team, which includes Peter Kennedy, interim director of the Center for Family Life Formation, and Jessica Lynn Kary, an apostolic obate with the Pro Sanctity Movement near Elkhorn.

The team is working closely with Father Lorig’s effort because a significant part of the evangelization strategy will be parish-based, they said.

Finally, the team concentrating on ways of "living mercy," made up largely of the board of Catholic Charities, also hopes to engage parishes, while taking advantage of the agency’s resources as the charitable arm of the archdiocese, said Father Michael Eckley, pastor of St. Pius X Parish and a Catholic Charities board member.

Catholic Charities hopes to engage "more parishes in the outreach, not only asking financial support but ‘sweat equity’ in meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters around us," Father Eckley said.

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