Setting goals as part of planning Print
Trusting in the Spirit
Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

Trusting in the Spirit by Grant Emmel

"It is up to the bishop with the help of the priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to implement a coordinated pastoral plan which is systematic and participatory involving all members of the church and awakening in them a missionary consciousness." -- Ecclesia in America, 36, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II (January 1999)

As mentioned previously, pastoral planning can be a vital part of an ongoing renewal, since it enables a group of parishes to find the ways and means to be better Church communities in our diocese in the most effective manner possible.

Can you help?

Do you have time and talent that you would like to give to the Diocese of Madison? The Office of Planning is looking for volunteer facilitators to assist parishes and clusters in formulating their pastoral plans.

If you think you have relevant experience, feel called to help move forward Bishop Morlino’s goals, and have the time and energy to give to this exciting apostolate, contact Grant Emmel at 608-821-3010 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Also, this allows parishes to learn from the plans of neighboring parishes, to blend with and support one another's plans, and, when advisable, to work with other parishes in some common activities.

All of us are called to participate fully in the life and mission of the Church, not some or part of the way -- all the way. This mission of the Church is rooted in the mission of Christ, who commanded everyone -- clergy, religious, and laity -- to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Goals provide focus

From its earliest days the Church has responded to this mission in various ways depending upon the times and circumstances. Most recently, Bishop Morlino's goals, as outlined in Trusting in the Spirit, have provided the focus for our ongoing parish and diocesan renewal efforts.  These goals challenge us to commit ourselves to be a Church that works:

  • To insure that all individuals throughout our 11 counties are graciously invited everyday, in one way or another, to meet Jesus Christ "Risen from the Dead," and be changed by Him.
  • To continue to offer the invitation of Jesus Christ the High Priest to young men so that, in sufficient numbers for the future, they will follow Him.
  • To teach, with love, the truths Christ has entrusted to His Church, so that clarification and conviction would replace ambiguity and confusion, where such might exist.
  • To enhance the quality of parish life by encouraging collaboration and the sharing of resources amongst the parishes.
  • To strengthen the presence of ministry of the Church in urban, rural, and suburban areas.
  • To help all parishioners understand the reality of our desire to continue to be the sacramental Church we are and are called to be, while at the same time recognizing the diminishing number of priests currently available to serve parishes.
  • To act as good stewards of all human, financial, and facility resources that will be needed for restructuring parishes and adopting new models.
  • To ensure that quality Catholic school education is available, accessible, and affordable throughout the diocese.
  • To build a greater sense of unity within the rich ethnic, cultural, and age-diverse population present within the local Church.
Framework for parishes

These goals are intended to provide a basis for reflection by the parishes as they seek to respond more fully to what Jesus is asking of them in their own circumstances.  It also gives parishes a framework for examining how they are living out the mission of Christ.

While what Jesus is asking of us is sometimes difficult to discover, the bishop has made it a bit clearer by giving directives that spell out how the cluster is to work toward his goals. Thus, the bishop's goals and his directives together give us the direction we need to set our own goals both for the parish and for the cluster of parishes.

The Pastoral Council is the key group that, with the pastor, makes possible the ongoing renewal of the parish through a consensus process in an atmosphere of prayer-ful reflection. They foster the full participation of the entire parish and cluster community (clergy, religious, and laity) by devising a plan to make this renewal happen through the achievement of their goals.

The formulation and adoption of a Parish Pastoral Plan are fundamental prerequisites for successful Cluster Pastoral Planning, which is merely an extension of the parish planning except for the larger faith community that is affected.

The members of the Pastoral Council need to be rooted in prayer, open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and committed to patient listening and study. Their work will first enhance the quality of parish life and promote parish vitality and then that vitality flows out to their neighboring parishes through the adoption of cluster goals.

Next: Making Goals a Reality

Grant Emmel is the vice chancellor and director of the diocesan Office of Planning.