The Diocese of St Petersburg has embarked on an inspiring plan to move the diocese and parishes forward in evangelization, and missionary discipleship for young people and families. As part of the mutually shared vision parishes are all implementing priority plans aligned with the goals set forth by the diocese. The vision for the diocese is titled Courageously Living the Gospel.
I had the opportunity to attend a recent planning session with 6 parishes from the diocese. They ranged in size and circumstances. All of them started with the Disciple Maker Index to provide data to inform them as they begin to define priorities. I was truly excited about the energy of the people! Pastors were there with key staff members and lay leaders and their energy was palpable. Also diocesan staff members who direct the evangelization, family life, communications and multicultural efforts attended the session and provided support with their presence and timely comments.
The teams were deeply engaged in their parish planning and jumped into reviewing the data and thinking about how their parishes can set meaningful achievable goals to move forward. This focus to align the diocese and parishes and the genuine commitment of the parishes to explore the data gives me great hope for the future of the church. The teams were open to changing their ideas and approach based on their review of the data. At one point our CLI leadership consultant had the parishes get up and talk with each other about ideas they had developed in the session as a way of building teamwork and sharing. It was a huge success and we heard about some very creative ideas such as engaging the youth program with campus ministry efforts in local colleges.
I look forward to seeing these efforts transform the parishes and the diocese as they become comfortable taking steps forward and observing what happens before the next step.