Pastoral Plan Process sets objectives

February 12, 2013

HOUSTON - Over the past several months, readers have followed Daniel Cardinal DiNardo’s vision for the Archdiocese’s future through a series of articles in this publication. To ensure the Archdiocese grows with the needs of our faithful, Cardinal DiNardo presented the idea of “fostering a spirituality of communion” and introduced three pathways — living our faith, sharing our faith and nurturing our faith — to be used in creating the bridge to our future. 

The most recent sequence of events in this process, which began in March 2011, involved:
• Parishes viewing a video message from Cardinal DiNardo about the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, available at; 
• Parish leadership documenting their parish’s “current view,” identifying examples of existing actions that support the pathways and also brainstorming potential actions to be incorporated into a parish plan; and 
• Conducting eight regional meetings around the Archdiocese late in 2012. Three additional regional meetings will be held in February to foster cross-parish idea sharing.

A total of 59 parishes sent more than 425 representatives to the regional meetings. The participants exchanged ideas and brainstormed recommended actions to “extend/expand parish activities” or “partner with other parishes” in support of the pathways. 
Overall, 497 suggestions were generated with responses falling into 28 categories. Nearly one-third of all suggestions fell into two categories: Youth and Inter-parish Activities. Other leading categories included: Formation for Adults, Resources for Formation, Parent Involvement in Faith Formation and Family Activities.

Considering all the suggestions together, each pathway had four key categories that contained higher than average numbers of suggestions:
• Living one’s faith: prayer, devotions/liturgy, participating in organized religious groups or movements, helping to catechize their family and taking part in parish- or Archdiocesan-sponsored family activities;
• Sharing one’s faith: group prayer, devotions/Liturgy, religious and social activities for youth/young adults and welcoming others into our community; and
• Nurturing one’s faith: fostering inter-parish communications, addressing multicultural opportunities, engaging our youth more and helping in social ministries.

In mid-January a broad representation of priests, deacons, religious, parish and Chancery staff, and lay delegates from various ethnic communities met to review suggestions from the regional meetings to create objectives designed to support the pathways. 

“Cardinal is articulating a vision for the Archdiocese,” said Jim Barrette, director of the Secretariat for Pastoral and Educational Ministries and executive officer for the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. “As parishes work on their parish plans, the leadership often looks to Cardinal [DiNardo] for direction. These pathway objectives will give guidance to parishes on ways to integrate activities that support Cardinal DiNardo’s vision of ‘fostering a spirituality of communion’... a vision based on the needs and aspirations of the faithful and a growing Church.”

Dominic Perri, planning consultant, has been involved as a facilitator in the pastoral planning process. “The objectives provide parishes throughout this Archdiocese the framework to develop action items that address the parish’s hopes and energy as well as the larger Pathways of the Archdiocesan plan,” Perri said. “I’m very impressed with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Having worked with over 25 dioceses across the US, I cannot think of another that has so skillfully involved laity in a pastoral planning process.”

The objectives will be presented to Cardinal in late February. Once approved, the pathways and objectives will be distributed to each parish so they can write supporting parish action plans.