Pastoral plan draft to be posted; all parishes to host meetings in October
By Tom Dermody
The multi-year “Growing Disciples” pastoral planning process is about to enter a “challenging, yet hopeful moment” with the public release of a second draft of parish models ahead of meetings to be hosted by every parish in the Diocese of Peoria in October.
“This is a time when the process is going to become, in a sense, more real to many because we’re saying ‘Here are the possibilities for us to consider for the future,’” said Bishop Louis Tylka.
The second draft of parish models — reviewed and refined in recent weeks by priest focus groups as well as lay representatives from across the diocese — will be posted online by Oct. 1 at growingdisciplescdop.org.
Bishop Tylka believes the public posting will be “a catalyst” for Catholics to participate in the parish meetings, which he strongly encourages. Further, the posting ensures that all parishioners will have access to the proposals at the same time and can come prepared to learn about the process, the proposals, and how to provide feedback.
“This is a time when the process is going to become, in a sense, more real to many because we’re saying ‘Here are the possibilities for us to consider for the future.’” — Bishop Tylka
“It’s really important that parishioners participate in the parish meetings because that’s where they can learn more about possible structures for parishes in their area and how to provide feedback on those proposed models,” said Bishop Tylka. At the meetings, additional context will be provided for the proposed parish models “as we dig into the reality of the changes that are necessary and the things we are confronting — fewer priests, fewer people in the pews, fewer resources to maintain our parishes.”
“The hope is that this round of conversations and feedback will help us best set ourselves up going forward to become a much more vibrant, dynamic, sustainable, mission-driven church for the future,” said Bishop Tylka. He called it a “challenging, yet hopeful moment” in the multi-year process. And the bishop hopes that Catholics in the parishes will take part “not just because they’re going to want to know what’s going on with ‘their church,’ but more so that they see the bigger picture of our need for significant change to set us up for a brighter tomorrow.”
Key Parish Leaders are being trained to help guide the parish meetings.
FINAL DECISIONS NEXT YEAR
“Growing Disciples” was announced by Bishop Tylka more than a year ago to renew discipleship and enhance relationships with Jesus Christ throughout the Diocese of Peoria. The pastoral planning process is evaluating the effectiveness of every parish in living out its mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus amidst today’s challenges. It entails ongoing prayer, listening, and feedback from the entire community.
“It’s really important that parishioners participate in the parish meetings because that’s where they can learn more about possible structures for parishes in their area and how to provide feedback on those proposed models,”
The process is also incorporating the “five foundations” outlined by Bishop Tylka in his message for Easter 2022 — evangelization, the Eucharist, discipleship, vocations, and the legacy of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Based on data collected over the last six months of 2022, a first draft of parish grouping options was proposed this spring. It was then reviewed by priests, the Diocesan Pastoral Planning Commission and Key Parish Leaders from each parish who provided feedback on the grouping options. The Growing Disciples Core Team, comprised of the bishop, parish priests, the Director of Vocations, the Chief of Mission, and the Director of Information Management then reviewed all the feedback that had been provided to form the second draft parish models.
The second draft models were then reviewed by priests through focus groups and the Pastoral Planning Commission before being made public. Following the parish meetings, the Growing Disciples Core Team will review all the feedback received and make any appropriate revisions. They will then forward their proposal to the Diocesan Pastoral Planning Commission and Presbyteral Council, who will create recommendations for the bishop’s discernment. The bishop’s final decision is expected by Pentecost 2024, with implementation of the new structures taking place in the coming years.