As you have seen in the last two issues of the West River Catholic, I have shared with you information about the Diocesan Envisioning Process. Recall our Sacred Mission:
“We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.”
Flowing from the mission of Jesus Christ himself, this Sacred Mission provides the framework for every ministry of the diocese moving forward into the future. This is applicable to diocesan ministries in the Chancery and to every parish and diocesan entity. Though each entity may have its own mission statement, all of our work should also flow from the mission as outlined in the diocesan mission statement.
The Priority Plan clearly defines the focus of the diocese over the course of the next 3-5 years. Important values also come into play in determining how we interact, communicate and behave in carrying out this Sacred Mission and should be exemplified in every person, every family, every ministry and every organization across the diocese.
The core values identified in the plan include: Prayer, Stewardship, Solidarity, Charity and Family. Please refer to the February issue of the West River Catholic for how these core values are defined (online at www.rapidcitydio cese.org/office-of-bishop/). Behaviors which exemplify these values will be shared at a later date when the whole Priority Plan is completed and communicated.
The next step in the envisioning process was to create a vision statement that will focus our efforts over the next five years. Our vision is one which offers a message of hope and opportunity that draws the people of God to something greater than themselves and inspires them to action. The ideas and thoughts that were gathered from the listening sessions held throughout the diocese last summer were instrumental in creating the vision and priorities.
Our vision statement is simple:
Reconcile — Make Disciples — Live the Mission. As this vision becomes an integral part of our lives — as individuals, as families, as parishes, as a diocese — one will be able to visibly see the world changing around us. Vision with action will tangibly make present the Kingdom of God. In other words, to live the mission of Jesus Christ is to change the world. A poem attributed to St. Teresa of Avila has this insight: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.”
In a practical way, how will this be lived out in the Diocese of Rapid City? This is where the Pastoral Priorities come into play. The three Pastoral Priorities and the goals for each of them will become our focus for ministry over the next 18-24 months, guiding our actions through the year 2018. These priorities will inform the focus, clarity and direction of our ministry in support of the mission of the diocese. The initiatives in these priorities are what have risen to the top of the agenda for the diocese through the envisioning process. In other words, they will become the focus of this diocese over the next two years and perhaps beyond. Included with each priority are goals which help us achieve in measurable ways a mutually shared vision for the diocese, thereby creating a healthy and vibrant church in western South Dakota.
The three Diocesan Pastoral Priorities are:
Reconciliation — As God has reconciled us through Jesus Christ, so we will promote forgiveness and healing within families; within and between communities; among racial groups; within the church. We will invite others to experience the good news of God’s love through an encounter with Jesus Christ.
Forming Disciples — We are called to a deep union with Christ — a relationship of love. We will work together for formation in the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral areas. This formation will empower us to grow as faithful stewards of God’s gifts, living a Catholic way of life through hospitality, faith and discipleship.
Funding the Mission — Our Pastoral Plan lays out the vision and priorities for the Diocese of Rapid City. Our plan will be successful because
disciples of Jesus Christ accept their call to joyfully and generously share their gifts so that the Gospel can be proclaimed and lived in western South Dakota.
The goals of each of these three Pastoral Priorities will be communicated in the April West River Catholic. The Priority Plan will also impact the foundational ministries of the diocese, those ministries which are part of the ongoing work of the local church. These foundational ministries include: Sacraments and Worship; Education and Formation; Governance and Finance; Social Services and Outreach; and Vocations and Evangelization.
Specific goals have been created for each of these ministries as well and will be shared in the future.
I am currently in the process of writing a pastoral letter which will clearly articulate the complete Diocesan Priority Plan. It is my hope that it will be completed by early summer.
In the meantime, I invite each of you to become familiar with our vision statement and these priorities. Take time to pray with them, asking the Lord Jesus how he is calling you to live them in your personal lives, your families and your parish communities. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your hearts to live this inspiring vision and pray for the fruitfulness of this important mission.
In this Year of Mercy, as we move from this grace-filled season of Lent to the season of Resurrected Life, may God pour out his love and mercy upon you, your family and the Diocese of Rapid City.