Pastoral Planning Process asks faithful about their needs, aspirations through ‘listening sessions’
February 22, 2011
HOUSTON — In the coming months, local Catholics are being asked to participate in group listening sessions designed to answer the question, "What's next for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston?"
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo has implemented these sessions to gauge the faith and needs of local Catholics. The responses from these sessions will guide the development of a new pastoral plan for the Archdiocese.
"Pastoral planning is a process of praying, listening and thinking together about our actions as one body now and for the future in this Archdiocese," said James Barrette, Director of Pastoral and Educational Ministries for the Archdiocese. "…It is pastoral planning because we are a people of faith. Planning in a pastoral context is prayerful. It allows for the work of the Holy Spirit done through and with us."
More than anything, the Pastoral Planning Process will be a conversation. The Pastoral Oversight Group, which will facilitate the listening sessions, designed the process so that the faithful understand: this is about listening to them.
"Since the majority of the listening sessions are designed to focus on the needs and aspirations of our Catholic community, the faithful can expect to provide input about their own faith and needs in the context of their own parish," said Sandra Sierra, chair of the Pastoral Oversight Group. "[The sessions] provide an opportunity for the faithful to express their … views about how the church enriches and supports community."
Participants will join in guided listening sessions, allowing Archdiocesan leadership to hear the hopes that the faithful have for the future of the local Church. During the listening sessions, the participants will address what they need, what they appreciate and what they hope for from their parish and the local Church.
Everyone, from those who go to Church regularly to those who attend twice a year, to those who are inactive are encouraged to participate.
"Our mandate from Cardinal DiNardo is to be as comprehensive as possible within a limited timeframe and cost," said Barrette. "So anyone in the Archdiocese is an ideal participant and everyone will be asked to participate in one or more ways."
Participants' responses will be analyzed and a core team will discern and propose potential directions to the cardinal.
"Through this process the cardinal wants to hear the voice of the faithful," said Sierra. "Their input is necessary in order that a true, complete voice of the faithful is reflected in the recommendations that the Cardinal will receive as a result of the process. This is why participation is key. The sessions are meant to provide the faithful with a platform to provide information that will help outline the realities and needs of their life in their parish."
At the direction of the cardinal, both Barrette and Sierra emphasize that prayer is an intensely important element in the process, in order to promote the sense of "one faith and one body."
"All the faithful will be asked to pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in this process and in that way everyone will be involved directly in the process through prayer," said Barrette.
Listening sessions will be held in various parishes across the Archdiocese. Participants can choose a session that matches their schedule and travel needs. Special sessions will be planned for non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics to gain their perceptions and views of the Church and how they see it impacting the community.
Sierra encourages participants to reflect upon their experiences as Catholics and said, "This is a time for one to identify what they value about their faith and their parish; what are their spiritual needs, the needs of their parish and what they hope for the future." †
Listening sessions for the Pastoral Planning Process will be held in various parishes across the Archdiocese. Participants can choose a session that matches their schedule and travel needs. Special sessions will be planned for non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics to gain their perceptions and views of the Church and how they see it impacting the community.
- March 22 7-9 p.m. St. Michael - Lake Jackson Family Life Center
- March 24 7-9 p.m. St. Mary of the Purification St. Mary Center Gym
- March 27 3-5 p.m. Holy Rosary – Rosenberg Parish Life Center
- March 28 7-9 p.m St. Mary Magdalene – Humble Family Life Center
- March 30 7-9 p.m. St. Bartholomew Parish Hall
- March 31 7-9 p.m. St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish Hall (Rm 127)
- April 5 7-9 p.m. St. Andrew – Channelview Parish Life Center
- April 6 7-9 p.m. Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Centre
- April 11 7-9 p.m. Queen of Peace – La Marque Parish Life Center
- April 13 7-9 p.m. Christ the Redeemer Community Center
- April 14 7-9 p.m. Our Lady of Lavang Parish Hall
- May 3 7-9 p.m. St. Bernadette Parish Life Center
- May 9 7-9 p.m. Sacred Heart – Conroe Auditorium
- May 11 7-9 p.m. St. Edward Parish Life Center