(Editor’s note: Diocesan Planning Commission co-chairs, Father Jim Vrba and Ruth Skeens, answer the following questions raised during recent parish planning meetings held at seven locations throughout the Davenport Diocese. This is the second in a series of Q&As. The comission expresses appreciation to the many people who submitted questions at those meetings).
Q: What is the connection between the work of phase one and the rest of the process?
A: The information included in the two reports (strengths and challenges / inter-parish collaboration) is to be shared with all parishioners in phase two. During phase three the Diocesan Planning Commission will facilitate meetings of the Local Area Planning Committees.
Q: What is a Local Area Planning Committee?
A: Each parish is represented by its pastor and two parishioners who will work with other parishes to form what is being called a Local Area Planning Committee.
A goal is for each Local Area Planning Committee to create a preliminary plan for inter-parish collaboration and cooperation within a given geographical area.
Those recommendations will be presented to all parishes during phase four of the planning process. Parishes are encouraged to hold at least one open “town hall” meeting to share the preliminary plan, and also gather suggestions for strengthening the preliminary plan. Each parish is also expected to have at least one meeting of its pastoral and finance councils to consider the plan and give input and offer any potential modifications suggested by parishioners. All plans are then submitted to the bishop.
The Diocesan Planning Commission reviews all of the plans during phase five. If the commission and bishop believe that modifications for a given local area are warranted, the respective plan is returned to the Local Area Planning Committee and those parishes affected with an explanation of recommended changes. Time is given for additional input and recommendations.
Final review of the proposed area plans will be made by the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and Diocesan Pastoral Council in phase six.
Bishop Martin Amos reviews, acknowledges and forwards the area plans to parishes during phase seven. The plans are to be used as guides for future inter-parish collaboration and cooperation. Every effort will be made to ensure that parishioners in every parish are made aware of the plans for their parish.
Q: Is it all cut and dried by next September?
A: No, it is not all cut and dried at this point. Plans are guidelines and not cast in stone. At any given time, we make the best plan we can, dependent on what we know at that time. Our plans need to be flexible and robust in order to meet our ever-changing needs in the Church today – what may be true today may not be tomorrow or next year. Certainly unexpected deaths or special needs also affect the different scenarios. This planning process is ongoing. After September, the Planning Commission will continue to review plans continuously, complete on-going evaluations and work with the Priest Personnel Board.