In the Fall of 2019, Bishop Earl Boyea assembled a 14-person committee, consisting of both laity and clergy, to help him chart a new way forward for the Diocese of Lansing. Entitled the Realign Resources for Mission Committee, the group is chaired by Father Mathias Thelen, Pastor of Saint Patrick Parish in Brighton.
Over the past year his group has consulted with numerous other dioceses across the United States and beyond to study various approaches to restructuring.
They have also amassed a huge amount of data assessing the apostolic life of the Diocese of Lansing. This includes a detailed survey of over 21,000 lay people, known as the Disciple Maker Index, which was conducted across all 72 parishes. Meanwhile, the priests of the diocese participated in a similar in-depth exercise known as Called for More. Both surveys were facilitated by the Pennsylvania-based Catholic Leadership Institute.
Yesterday saw the committee's findings presented to the priests of the Diocese of Lansing during a one-day gathering at Saint Patrick Parish in Brighton. The next step, said Father Mathias, is to similarly consult with the lay faithful of the diocese during a series of parish meetings from November 16 to December 17.
Father Mathias was keen to stress that his committee is still someway off from drafting a blueprint for the re-organization of parish boundaries and that any such blueprint would only be developed in consultation with both the clergy and lay faithful of the diocese.
He also stressed that any changes in parishes boundaries, including any potential reduction in the number of parishes, did not automatically necessitate a change or reduction in the number of churches or “worship sites” within the diocese.
However, he did want to present a general vision of renewed parish life. So what is that vision? What will it change? Will it make any difference to how parishes evangelize? How can the laity input to the Realign Resources for Mission Committee? They are just some of the question put to Father Mathias during this Diocese of Lansing Podcast. Asking the questions is David Kerr, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Lansing.
* Diocese of Lansing Podcast #11. Recorded Friday, October 2, Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.