Planning and the holy-day season Print
Trusting in the Spirit
Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008 -- 1:00 AM

As we transition from Thanksgiving, into Advent, and on toward Christmas, I thought that it would be nice to give some thanks, speak of hope, and talk of joy.

Giving thanks

We are just over a year since Bishop Morlino put forth his directives for Trusting in the Spirit, thus giving all parishioners in the Diocese of Madison a clear direction for their parish’s future. An important result of those directives was the implementation of each cluster’s pastoral planning done through Guided by the Spirit.

The thought is that each cluster would labor together to address those pastoral areas put forth by the bishop as part of their directives. When the bishop didn’t specifically address an area, the cluster was free to put forth their ideas. The output was to be a plan that clearly outlined objectives, tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.

Well, it has been somewhat of a challenge just to get plans from clusters as well as ensuring the quality of the plans received. While there are only a couple of clusters remaining, I would like to make a special note of a couple of clusters who did excellent work.

One was Cluster 70: St. Mary Parish and St. Augustine University Parish, both in Platteville. As stated by the Implementation Commission, who commended them for “the comprehensive nature of the implementation plan . . . by addressing each directive separately, setting clear goals in support of these directives, identifying objectives to meet these goals, and creating the detailed action plan in support of these objectives by showing specific timing and responsibilities.”

Another one was Cluster 280: St. John Vianney, St. Patrick, Nativity of Mary, and St. William Parishes in Janesville and St. Mary in Milton. The Implementation Commission highlighted the “excellent spirit of cooperation evident among all parishes in the cluster.”

Thank you for your excellent quality work and leadership by example to other clusters as part of the diocesan planning efforts. You can look at all of the cluster plans and the Implementation Commissions responses to them online at, under Trusting in the Spirit.

Waiting with hope

Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation of the coming of our Lord, the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. This is a healthy type of waiting as it allows for the preparation of our interior life, clearing out of all that is not needed to move us closer to Christ.

While I have been heartened by the general response to Trusting in the Spirit, it is my great hope that the next year brings a greater awareness to all of our connectedness and dependence upon one another across the diocese.

God’s will has ordained that we live as part of His Church in the Diocese of Madison and we need to take our diocesan work seriously, moving together toward our common good as expressed by Bishop Morlino. What affects one in Grant County, affects another in Dane County, and another in Green Lake County, even though we may not see how.

We should ask Mary our Mother to help draw us together toward Christ in this Advent Season. Our Lady, Hope and Seat of Wisdom — pray for us!

Bringing about joy

In this world there is much talk of being happy but more often than not there isn’t any talk of how to bring that happiness about. As Christmas approaches and we gaze upon the babe in the crib, we need to be reminded that the real happiness, that real joy that our Lord yearns to give us, lies in the realization that we’re doing His work, not our work.

Our work is to align ourselves with Him, giving glory to God, serving Him in obedience and love, and moving toward the attainment of eternal happiness and joy in God.

May the most just and most lovable will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised, and eternally exalted above all things. Amen. Amen. Merry Christmas!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or mail us at Trusting in the Spirit, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719.

Grant Emmel is the vice chancellor of the Diocese of Madison.