Bishop Kopacz releases Reimagining process pastoral letter

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – The year-long pastoral reimagining process undertaken by the Diocese of Jackson concluded with a pastoral letter by Bishop Joseph Kopacz released on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.

The Reimagining process spread across five major phases, that included establishing pastoral reimagining committees; parish assessments; reviewing data on diocesan demographics by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and pastors, deacons and LEMs meeting; and Bishop Kopacz visiting each deanery to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving and meeting with key people who worked on the pastoral reimagining process for each parish.

Spurred from the prayer and conversation from the Synod of Synodality process, the Pastoral Reimagining process was to deepen the understanding of what it means to be a church that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. In his pastoral letter, Bishop Kopacz writes that, “these timeless marks served us well in order to reimagine and renew our relationship with the Lord who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

The pastoral letter is in response to the intentional work of parishes through the various phases of the Reimagining process and strives to honor the conversations, aspirations, struggles and dreams of the individuals who gathered for the process of the past year.

Touching on various topics, Bishop Kopacz first focuses on the desire for healing and unity, a topic brought about in the Synod process and then throughout the Reimagining process. He writes, “Fundamental to the healing within the church is the rebuilding of trust through transparency, collaboration and walking together as the Body of Christ.”

Other subjects include being more inviting to all and increased need for more bilingual catechist who can bridge the language gap between those serving in ministries in parish communities and those in large Hispanic communities around the diocese.

Bishop Kopacz writes, “The vast majority of the Hispanic children and young people are familiar with the English language and easily integrate into the flow of parish life … However, with older generations, there are pastoral realities that can marginalize, and it is incumbent upon diocesan and parish leadership, as well as parishioners to bridge the gaps in order to strengthen the bonds of the Body of Christ.”

The dignity of human life and the overcoming of hostile polarization and negative bipartisan politics are also topics addressed.

“Because our Synodal and Reimagining sessions were rooted in scripture and prayer, we did not fall prey to the landmines of divisiveness and polarization. It can be done, and it bodes well for the pastoral work that awaits us,” writes Bishop Kopacz.

Fran Lavelle, director of faith formation for the diocese, worked with Bishop Kopacz throughout the process. She says that the pastoral letter “isn’t the end [of the process] – it’s the beginning. Now we begin the hard work of … developing the things that we need to be successful.”

At the conclusion of his letter, Bishop Kopacz writes that the Chancery office is well equipped to accompany all parishes and missions to meet the challenges of their local communities and help explore ways to grow their ministries.

“There is much work to be done but together we can build a future of hope.”

To read the pastoral letter and learn more about the Pastoral Reimagining process visit