Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
PROMPTED BY THE CONTINUING CHANGING CATHOLIC DEMOGRAPHICS within the 10 counties of our diocese, our diocesan staff and priests engaged in a process of strategic planning during 2018. One of three important priorities discerned by these groups was the need to realign our human and other resources to better position us to engage in the mission of Jesus to build up the Kingdom of God in the Diocese of Lansing.
As a result, a committee was formed in 2019 with the specific task of seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the presbyterate, the parish and school staffs and the faithful men and women of this diocese to determine how best to realign our resources (personnel, property, financial, material), in order to further the mission of forming communities of missionary disciples who go announce the Gospel of the Lord. At the end of this process, they are to provide me with a written recommendation of proposed changes necessary to help our diocese become more effective in this evangelistic mission.
Several statistics informed this decision. For example, the diocese has 81 active priests available to serve 74 parishes. Also, we continue to experience a decline in people attending Mass, with a loss of more than 17,000 people since 2009. While these are serious challenges, they provide us an opportunity to evaluate our current situation and to align our resources in order to create vibrant parishes and schools that evangelize. God always provides for our needs, and he will do so now as long as we are wise in using the gifts God gives us!
I have asked Father Mathias Thelen, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Brighton, to lead the Realign Resources for Mission committee. The committee held its first meeting on August 26, 2019. We began with Mass and a blessing of the members of the committee.
The responsibilities and goals of the committee are to:
- Gather quantitative and qualitative data from priests, parish staff and parishioners that will provide a picture of the overall health of the diocese. Three resources have already been purchased to facilitate this data collection: Mapdash for Faith Communities, Veracruz for the analysis of Catholic schools and the Catholic Leadership Institute Disciple Maker Index to assess the faith level of our folks.
- Using the data that have been gathered, analyze and review the current and future needs of our diocese in terms of parish structure and utilization of resources (human, financial and temporal).
- Research best practices for diocesan restructuring by looking at other dioceses which have undergone this process.
- Provide a method and opportunity for the laity, parish staff and priests to participate in the process and offer their input.
- In consultation with the director of communications, develop a communications strategy designed to keep the people of God well-informed about the process and results of this work
- Provide regular updates and reports to the Presbyteral Council (the council representing our priests) and the cabinet.
- Recommend a comprehensive plan to realign resources to mission, taking into consideration the analysis of the current situation within the diocese regarding parishes, schools, agencies, priests and temporal and financial goods. Aim to deliver this report by December 8, 2020. My final charge to this group was to pray often so as to seek the common good. It is important that all of us pray for this same common good. We need not be afraid as we seek ideas for renewal and growth. In the end, we wish to be a diocese with parishes that are fully alive communities of missionary disciples, with a vibrant sacramental life, where everyone can encounter Jesus Christ, most especially in the Eucharist.
Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing