Archdiocese to produce pastoral vision for next 10 years
by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — You don’t need Marty McFly, Doc Brown’s DeLorean, or 1.21 gigawatts of hair-frying electricity to find out about the future.
All you need is a good 10-year plan and a little vision.
This month, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the 11 members of an archdiocesan Envisioning Leadership Team will help develop a pastoral vision for the next 10 years.
The process will involve a focus group with members representing various archdiocesan constituencies, as well as listening sessions inviting more general input from members of archdiocesan parishes.
The time to write a new vision seemed auspicious, since January is the 10th anniversary of Archbishop Naumann’s assignment as coadjutor to the archdiocese. He succeeded Archbishop James P. Keleher as archbishop in January of 2005.
“If it be God’s will, and if I remain healthy, I would be pleased to be able to serve this archdiocese for another 10 years,” wrote Archbishop Naumann in a Jan. 2 letter to focus group members. “Thus, I believe it is an opportune time to pause and reflect on what our efforts have produced and to prayerfully consider what the Lord is calling us to do in the foreseeable future.”
The process will begin on Jan. 26 with an inaugural meeting of the Envisioning Leadership Team and focus group meetings with 15 to 20 persons.
The broader listening sessions will be held on Feb. 25, with times, dates and locations to be announced later.
The Envisioning Leadership Team will continue to meet from March to May and produce the 10-year pastoral vision by May 24, the solemnity of Pentecost.
“When Archbishop Naumann [became the ordinary], he established some pastoral priorities,” said Father Gary Pennings, vicar general. “They are: conversion of heart, evangelization, Catholic formation (Catholic education in all its forms), stewardship, and outreach and care for the poor and needy.”
“I think they’re great pastoral priorities . . . but I think he wants, at this point in time, to revisit them and see if we should rearticulate them in different ways. This is time for a conversation for the next 10 years of what we want to focus on — the most important things [to which] we need to pay attention.”
The archdiocese has hired the Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Catholic Leadership Institute to facilitate the process. The institute has provided services to places like the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, said Michael P. Fullam, CLI vice president, episcopal and client services.
Some of the questions the archbishop and his team will ask during the focus group sessions are, “What does the archdiocese do well?,” “What would be two or three priorities for the archdiocese moving forward?” and “If all goes well, what will the church in northeast Kansas look like in 10 years?”
The process was designed to include many voices, said Fullam.
“It provides a voice to the people to articulate — from a spiritual growth perspective — ‘This is what we think we need,’” said Fullam. “It gives the archbishop some additional voices he would not typically hear. The archbishop is being so very responsive to his people by wanting to hear their perspective as well.”
The outcome of the process will be a short document that articulates the archbishop’s vision for the next 10 years.
“It sets an ideal and a direction for the archdiocese to move [in],” said Fullam. “It gives a sense of what [the archdiocese] will look like and what is it you want to move toward. It’s a very proactive document as opposed to reactive. If I could sum it up in one word, it provides clarity.”