This article was originally published on our blog on 08/28/2014.
I think our challenge in parish and diocesan leadership today is two-fold. First, we need to hold onto or reclaim hope. And second, we need to find concrete and effective ways to rise above a passive “managing decline” mode of operating.
This September in my diocese we are trying something for the first time in response to the continuing decline in enrollment numbers in our parish faith formation programs. Put very simply, I have invited/challenged our directors and coordinators of religious education to turn over every stone to find marginal Catholic families, those completely disconnected, and seeker families in their communities.
These folks are out there in droves. And I am asking my catechetical leaders to aggressively reach out by any means they can think of to market Catholic faith formation to these people. Sitting back and waiting for families to find us is no longer an acceptable posture for a missionary Church, which is what we now are.
Really, this is a two-pronged effort: 1) Market and promote parish faith formation by every means imaginable in the community throughout the month of September; 2) Ask families already in the parish to invite other families in.
The specifics of my communications with my parish leaders on this initiative can be found at the Diocese of Joliet website (below) or by clicking on the link for downloading the document in PDF or in Word formats.
I encourage you to read on and consider how you might want to take action steps in your ministry right now for finding the marginal, the lost and the seeking and bringing families into parish formation ministries. Please feel free to borrow and steal anything you find helpful. (If you are a parish leader, I hope you can share this with your diocesan leadership.) And if you come upon this entry beyond September 2014, consider implementing something of this sort for the future.
Evangelization is a ground game. That means every encounter, every marketing effort, every meeting, everyday is where every one of us has a chance to serve as an instrument of the Holy Spirit and incrementally move the Body of Christ and the world toward a new Pentecost.
This September Initiative is not rocket science. It is simply outreach and invitation. It is doable and will bring folks in! September is not too late!
Diocese of Joliet website: www.dioceseofjoliet.org/reo/sectioncontent.php?secid=23