This coming year, I want to trumpet three exciting, promising, and important pastoral initiatives in the life of our archdiocese: Living Our Faith, strategic planning for the years ahead, and the Faith in Our Future Capital Campaign.
So don't say you weren't warned.
The Living Our Faith project demands nothing dramatically new, no added committees or forms to fill out. It is a concentration on what we do best as the church: to meet, know, and live Jesus Christ!
Yet even though he acknowledges that committees and forms are impediments to internal evangelization, the other two initiatives look like they will involve more of both.
Then there's our planning endeavor, led by Fr. Jim Connell. Do, in fact, all of our parishes, schools, services, and diocesan structures clearly and effectively assist us to meet, know, and live Christ?
Obviously not, or there'd be no need for the Living Our Faith initiative.
...we ask if we as the church in southeastern Wisconsin are as organized, effective, sharp, and responsive as we should be?
In recent decades I don't recall our Archdiocese often cited as an example of being organized, effective, sharp, and responsive at all.
These are all pointed questions on which Fr. Connell is concentrating. He's meeting with everybody from janitors to deans. And he's a dog with a bone.
The process now has the name Vision: 21st Century Planning. At the linked site you'll see
After more than 15 years and three cycles of archdiocesan planning initiatives, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new millennium in need of a comprehensive plan for Mission and Ministry.
Almost makes one wonder what was accomplished in those preceding 15 years.
Our Archbishop goes on.
Finally, like it or not, to engage people in the adventure of a lifetime - meeting, knowing, and living Christ in and with his church - costs a lot of money!
You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, but not for free.
Catholic education and faith formation, carried out with excellence and precision, forming and changing lives, is expensive.
Maybe there's an accountability problem that's lead to the money problem.
Thus, our Faith in the Future Capital Campaign, forming us in stewardship, bringing us together as Catholics, raising much needed resources for our parishes and the wider church, is essential.
As he said earlier, it's actually the Faith in Our Future campaign. If you read its mission statement and goals, $63 million of the funds to be raised would be distributed to parishes based on what sound like grant applications. This will involve those committee meetings and filling out forms that our Archbishop seemed to acknowledge have been a factor in sucking the life out of our parishes. Which makes this seem like ... bad planning.
Even more basically, though, our Archbishop says,
Tomorrow, our children and grandchildren may have lost the "pearl of great price," their Catholic faith.
That indicates a problem that won't be solved spending more money on religious education as it's been done for that last couple of generations.