By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – All of the rollout sessions for the new mission, vision and pastoral priorities are scheduled to be finished by Thursday, April 6. In all, Bishop Joseph Kopacz’ team led implementation sessions in nine parishes selected in hopes of making it possible for people from all parishes to attend if they would like. During the first seven sessions, more than 500 people representing more than half of the parishes came.
The point of the rollout sessions was two-fold. Bishop Kopacz wanted people who attended last year’s listening sessions to hear the data gathered and learn how it was turned into the new mission, vision and priorities. The other goal of the sessions was to work with the parish representatives who will be integrating the new material into their parish community life. The teams got a training session in how to write SMART goals and got time to practice how that is done.
In addition to parish presentations, Bishop Kopcaz and Father Kevin Slattery, vicar general for the diocese, presented the priorities to school administrators during their retreat. Catherine Cook, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said each school community will use the mission, vision and priorities as they plan their next couple of academic years.
From here, pastors will form teams and begin the process of writing and working on goals specific to their communities. Bishop Kopacz has appointed a resource person to each parish. This person has already undergone training in how to charter a team and what SMART goals should look like.
Members of the resource team are available to present workshops to the parish teams, but are not meant to direct the plans in any way. They will offer regular reports to Bishop Kopacz on how each parish is doing on writing and executing their goals.
Pam Minninger is one of the resource people. She said she is already seeing the fruits of this work. “Of course, it takes a bit of time to digest the idea of SMART goals and how to formulate them, but once the work begins the parish teams seem to be really energized and ready to set some good goals for their parishes,” she said. “In today’s world, we seem to move through our days, weeks, months, just ‘getting things done’ and forget to set goals and live our lives deliberately and with thought. I think teams are seeing the need, the wisdom, and the potential in taking the time to set goals and deliberately address the way the vision statements can be lived,” added Minninger.
This priority plan is meant to be a three to five year project. Parishes may decide to concentrate their efforts on one or maybe two priorities. Some larger parishes may be able to tackle all three at once. Each parish team learned that they should dream big, but concentrate their efforts on two or three SMART goals at a time. Once they meet those, the pastor can convene a new team, or keep the existing one to write new goals for another priority.
As the resource people report to the bishop, a new Envisioning team will consider how to adjust the priorities for the future.
Members of the parish teams each received booklets with the vision, mission and priorities outlined. The books include desired outcomes for the diocese as a whole and pages where team members can write their own thoughts or goals. Additional books are available to any parish who may need them.
The diocesan department of communications has developed an entire section of the website where anyone can read the new vision, mission and priorities and find resources for using them in groups or if an individual would like to take on a personal reflection of the plan. The new website is available from the homepage for the diocese, www.jacksondiocese.org. Look for Pastoral Priorities in the upper right corner.
Turn to pages 8-9 of this edition to see each priority and the detailed outcomes. In coming months, look in Mississippi Catholic for updates on the rollout and success stories.
This is the new Vision Statement and logo. The Vision: Embrace Diversity, Serve Others, Inspire Disciples, is wrapped around the logo in a circular way to symbolize that they are all of equal importance. One part of the vision feeds into the others. The Envisioning Team wanted the vision to be broad so it captures what it means to be Catholic in Mississippi, but also wanted it to have some room so each community could embrace what each vision statement means in that specific parish, school or center. This will serve as the new logo for the Diocese of Jackson.
In a similar way, the Mission Statement will remain even if priorities change. It is meant to direct, guide and inspire the faithful as they live their lives and be a foundation for all the work of the individual parishes, missions, schools and service centers. The mission and each priority statement have Scripture versus associated with them. The Scripture for the Mission Statement comes from Matthew’s Gospel. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me (Matt 25:35-36).
The priorities are not numbered. All are of equal importance. Parishes may decide to focus on only one or two or may wish to tackle all three. What is important is that they find a shared vision to unify them. Bishop Kopacz and his Envisioning Team came up with outcomes to focus the work and assigned a scripture to each to help with discernment.