COLORADO SPRINGS. The Diocesan Pastoral Plan for 2015-2020, “Forming Communities of Missionary Disciples,” is now in its second year. Over the next 12 months, parish leaders are being encouraged to highlight the Mass as the center of parish life and look for ways to “develop the appeal and user-friendliness” of their parishes, said Father Jim Baron, pastor of Holy Apostles Parish and one of the plan’s authors.
“The City on a Hill” is the theme of Year II. Some of the areas for reflection include looking at the amount of time and effort put into liturgical preparation, the attractiveness of the parish buildings and marketing efforts, and whether the parish is an active part of the local neighborhood.
“As we move into Year II of our Pastoral Plan, I pray that every Catholic — clergy, religious and lay — will see the importance and the urgency of renewing their relationship with Jesus Christ so that we can continue to form communities of missionary disciples. This is our vocation. We can’t ignore it,” said Bishop Michael Sheridan.
Investing in the liturgy and enhancing the visual appeal of a parish are simple ways to communicate the importance of what goes on there, and can help encourage more people who live in the surrounding neighborhood to become part of the parish, which in the long run will lead to a more stable and permanent group of parishioners, Father Baron said.
“Many of our parishes (in the Diocese of Colorado Springs) have a lot of people who drive in from other parts of the city,” he said. “This shows a deep loyalty but will not sustain the parish by itself. You’ve got parents who are willing to drive across town to go to Mass, but their children might not make that effort when they grow up. It also creates logistical problems for pastoral care, such as bringing Communion to the sick, etc. And it can be an issue for our Catholic schools. It’s important to invest deeply in the local neighborhood.”
In the section of the pastoral plan for young adults, areas for reflection center around helping them to actively participate in the Mass and find ways to use their gifts for the good of their parishes. Young adults are also asked to reflect on whether their actions outside of Mass reflect their Catholic faith.
“We can not just spend energy creating more things that have low participation. Young adults have every entertainment at their fingertips. More entertainment is not what we should offer. We have to challenge them to make commitments and sacrifices and to provide opportunities for meaningful relationships,” Father Baron said.
There are also materials for youth, and children, all of which are available in both English and Spanish. In addition, each section includes a list of resources for further study.
The full text of the plan for the second year can be found on the diocesan website at www.diocs.org/About/Diocesan-Pastoral-Plan.