By Barb Arland-Fye
IOWA CITY — Five strategic priorities will guide the Diocese of Davenport as it plans for the future: celebrating liturgy well, restoring trust, modeling best practices, strengthening parish life and enhancing communication.
These priorities are part of a visioning document the Diocesan Pastoral Council approved April 5 during a meeting at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City.
The Diocesan Pastoral Council, composed of 25 lay people, clergy and religious from throughout the diocese, serves as an advisory body to Bishop Martin Amos.
The visioning document serves as benchmark in the planning process, said Dan Ebener, the diocese’s stewardship director. He has advised the pastoral council to review the document in six months to evaluate progress on the initiatives described in it and to consider next steps in the visioning process.
The document identifies a vision statement: “The Catholic Diocese of Davenport will reflect the reign of God by growing in faith, hope and charity;” a mission statement: “As a Eucharistic community, we live out Jesus’ call to go and make disciples of all nations and to love God and neighbor;” a list of strategic challenges and a list of specific actions to undertake. Among the challenges:
• Maintaining the viability of parish life and making the Eucharistic Liturgy available to all areas of the diocese while striving to increase vocations to the priesthood.
• Nurturing and maintaining a sense of prayer, proclaiming and practicing the Gospel, promoting justice and living out our Catholic faith in a society whose norms, values and culture often conflict with Gospel values.
• Becoming increasingly accountable to each other as we reestablish trust in the church.
• Developing leadership and delegating more responsibility to lay people and deacons in a collaborative manner while honoring the nature of the church and specific policies.
• Paying just wages and benefits to staff while balancing church budgets in a declining economy, especially in those parishes supporting Catholic schools.
Specific actions for the diocese to undertake include:
• Creating a long-range, proactive strategic plan for revitalizing and restructuring the parishes and deaneries in the diocese.
• Based on that plan, encouraging each parish to plan for the next 10 years.
• Aligning a new parish and deanery structure to meet the needs and interests of parishes by promoting collaboration between parishes across the diocese.
• Actively promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life and lay ecclesial ministry to provide for spiritual needs of the diocese.
• Providing ongoing training for parish councils, lay directors, finance councils, boards of education and continuing leadership training for clergy and lay leaders.
Also during the Pastoral Council meeting, Sister Laura Goedken, OP, the diocese’s development director, provided an update on the newly created Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Davenport. It has been established to focus on the diocese’s long-term financial wellbeing. The foundation’s board will meet for the first time May 18.
Melissa Watkins, director of the Diocese’s Capital Campaign, provided an update on the campaign. This summer, five parishes — yet to be announced — will serve as pilot projects for the campaign effort.
Ruth Skeens, chair of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, guided fellow members in an exercise to evaluate their emotions concerning the capital campaign. They chose “glad,” “sad,” mad” or “scared.” Just under half of the group chose “glad” while a little more than half chose “scared,” Sr. Goedken said.
Skeens asked those who felt scared to talk about what made them feel that way. Most expressed worries about the economy and how to coordinate the capital campaign with building projects being done at the parish level. Bishop Amos, who like Sr. Goedken feels glad about the campaign, said the exercise was helpful and effective.
Pastoral council member Marie Ware, who chairs the Diocesan Planning Commission, provided an update on that commission’s efforts. The commission, which reports to Bishop Amos and the pastoral council, is building on the work done by the Living the Faith Task Force in looking at future structuring of parishes. Its next meeting is April 16.