The kick-off weekend is November 5 and 6. Most parishes will conduct the survey that weekend in conjunction with their weekend liturgies. Those parishes that have a conflict with that date because of parish functions or celebrations such as Confirmation will select another weekend in November to launch the survey.
On the kick-off weekend, individuals 18 years or older will be asked to complete the survey while at Mass. The surveys will provide information to the diocese and the parishes as to the level of support for ways of providing for ministry and worship with fewer priests.
Survey takers will also indicate their level of support for the ministries of the diocesan church and their level of satisfaction with various aspects of parish life and parish programs. Finally, the surveys will help in providing important demographic information about Catholics of the diocese.
Parishes receive data
Parishes will receive the data collected from the surveys completed in their pews. This information will help the parish pastor and leadership to begin strategizing for the parish's future.
The data will give indications as to which programs are working well and which need improvement. The demographic information will help the parishes to better understand the needs of their membership based on age, ethnicity, education, and income.
Regional meetings for pastors and parish leadership delegates as named by the pastor will be held the week of October 10 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.: Monday, Oct. 10, at St. John the Baptist Parish in Montello; Tuesday, Oct. 11, at St. William Parish in Janesville; Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison; Thursday, Oct. 13, at St. Mary Parish in Platteville.
The last pastoral strategic planning process for the diocese was conducted in 1996 and provided a 10-year plan. Since 1996, 43 additional parishes have entered into "shared pastor" status. Currently 88 of the 134 parishes of the diocese share a pastor with at least one other parish. The number of Catholics in the diocese has grown from 256,000 in 1996 to over 271,000 in 2005.
During that same period of time, the number of diocesan priests has declined from 127 to 91. It is anticipated that with the retirement of the largest ordination classes of the diocese in the near future, that number may be reduced by an additional 37. The diocese is blessed with 20 seminarians in formation at this time. However, the next ordinations will not be until 2008. Currently there are four men in that class.
Kate Wiskus, director of the Office of Planning, said, "It is paramount that we do this pastoral strategic planning at this time. We are compelled to do it in order to ensure the future of Christ's Church in the Diocese of Madison.
"We are facing very real challenges as the number of faithful increase, the centers of population shift, and the number of priests in active ministry decline. The planning process is intended to identify how we can best serve the people of the Diocese of Madison and at the same time ensure quality of life and ministry for the priests of the diocese," she said.
State Senate: Passes pro-life legislative proposals
MADISON -- The State Senate passed various bills regarding pro-life issues September 28 and 29.
"Wisconsin has not seen such a day when so many vulnerable individuals received protection through the courageous votes of a majority of State Senators," said Susan Armacost, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life.
"Whether it was saving cloned human embryos from creation and destruction, providing women seeking abortions with critical information, expanding conscience rights within the medical community, or facilitating the donation of infant cord blood, it was a monumental day for pro-life public policy," she said.
The State Senate approved:
Assembly Bill (AB) 499 by a vote of 21-12 - This ban on all human cloning would include reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning (in which embryos are created and killed for stem cell research). An amendment to outlaw reproductive cloning but permit therapeutic cloning was narrowly defeated in a 17-16 vote.
In affirming the passage of AB 499, Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) Executive Director John Huebscher said, "The Senate's action clearly establishes that the public has a role, indeed a responsibility, to set boundaries for ethical research. AB 499 draws a line that will not stop the advancement of scientific knowledge and the discovery of cures, but instead points the way toward ethical means of achieving those shared goals."
Governor Jim Doyle stated his intentions to veto the legislation, stating that a prohibition on human cloning will prevent Wisconsin scientists from finding cures that save lives. Huebscher argued, "The issue is not whether or not one supports cures, but whether or not one supports unlimited means to arrive at those cures."
"We commend the Wisconsin State Senate for placing a total ban on the destructive and dehumanizing practice of human cloning," said Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin.
"Pro-Life Wisconsin wants to see research move forward in the hopes of discovering treatments for disease and we can move forward ethically so long as we do not create life simply to kill it for the benefit of others," she said. "Wisconsinites deserve the assurance that their state can build on its lead in biotechnology without compromising its bioethics."
Senate Bill (SB) 138 by a vote of 21-12 - The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act requires that a woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks gestation or later be informed that her unborn child is capable of experiencing substantial pain from the abortion procedure. SB 138 now moves to the State Assembly for consideration.
AB 207 by a vote of 21-12 - The Conscience Protection Act allows medical professionals and health care facilities and students to refuse to participate for conscience reasons in eight specific activities which deal with the deliberate destruction of human life.
"Even as the state seeks to balance individual rights in a way that best secures the freedom of all, the state must protect any person from compulsion to act in ways that contradict his or her religious and moral values," Huebscher said.
The governor vetoed similar legislation last session and has signaled his intentions to do so again.
AB 270 by a 33-0 vote - The Cord Blood Bill requires that a pregnant woman be informed that she can donate her newborn infant's umbilical cord blood to cord blood banks. The bill enhances the availability of adult stem cells for research and treatment.
"Ethically unproblematic, clinically proven cord blood stem cells are adult-type stem cells that do not require the destruction of human embryos and that have successfully treated many life-threatening diseases," said Matt Sande, director of legislative affairs for Pro-Life Wisconsin.
The bill received bi-partisan support and according to WCC, the governor will likely sign this measure.
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070 Fax: 608-821-3071 E-Mail: email@example.com