By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson has a new initiative that will focus on renewing and reimagining parishes across the diocese. The one-year “Pastoral Reimagining” process, that will begin on Pentecost Sunday, will focus on parishes and missions across the diocese taking a more direct and intentional look at the reality of their communities in the spirit of the Synod of Synodality in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“We are allowing the Holy Spirit to bless and guide us in our willingness to cooperate with God’s grace in a spirit of renewal,” writes Bishop Joseph Kopacz in his column for Mississippi Catholic on the reimagining process.
The theme from the process is from Ephesians, “There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism and one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6)
Thinking about the Synod process undertaken in the diocese and throughout the world, Bishop Kopacz noted that the church is at a crossroads locally and globally. With that, an extensive demographic review of the diocese will be a part of the “Pastoral Reimagining” process.
“Without a doubt [it] will enrich the local conversations,” said Bishop Kopacz.
There will be four stages of the pastoral reimagining process over the course of the year, running from Pentecost this year to Pentecost 2024.
The first stage will run from Pentecost through August 2023, with each pastor or LEM establishing a pastoral reimagining committee and having the committee view four ecclesiology video sessions and answer a series of questions designed to guide conversation on who we are as a church, says Fran Lavelle, director of faith formation for the diocese and member of the core team who will be working on the pastoral reimagining process.
The four video sessions, led by Bishop Kopacz will focus on the four marks of the church: one, holy, Catholic and apostolic; and will be available for anyone to view on the diocese website, along with discussion questions.
Stage two, will include each parish undertaking a parish assessment that includes the current situation at the local parish, the growing edges, the areas that are diminishing, the opportunities for collaboration with other parishes in the area, and other local realities.
With this stage, demographic information will be prepared for each parish, including sacramental data, local economic data and more, says Lavelle.
The third stage will focus on each deanery working though challenges and reviewing the growing edges and diminishing areas of ministry within the deanery.
“The goal is to gain a realistic perspective of the health and well-being of the deanery within the setting of the individual parishes,” Lavelle says.
The final two stages will include a period of discernment on reports from the six deaneries in the diocese and a pastoral letter from Bishop Kopacz, concluding with a diocesan celebration at Pentecost 2024.
“Calling upon the Holy Spirit, we pray that each parish will be encouraged, as well as challenged to be whom God calls us to be,” says Bishop Kopacz.
By Joanna Puddister King