In his letter of promulgation for the 2007-2012 Come to the Light diocesan pastoral plan, Bishop Thomas wrote,
“I invited the people of the Diocese of Helena to begin a process of planning which would provide a vision to shape and form the priorities of the Diocese for the next five years. Guided by reliance on the Holy Spirit and trusting the goodness and wisdom of our people, the process moved forward.”
Once again Bishop Thomas has called on the people of the diocese to prayerfully discern future plans by convening the 2016 Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC). The council is charged with synthesizing the hopes and needs of our diverse diocesan communities into a new 5-year pastoral plan. The DPC primarily consists of individuals serving in pastoral ministry and is representative of each deanery (regional area) within the diocese: Kalispell, Conrad, Butte, Helena, Bozeman and Missoula.
Convened in September, the DPC will hold a final “Formation Session” in December and conclude its focus on the current stewardship of diocesan finances, ministries and personnel. The pastoral planning process then calls for a two-part listening process that manifests Bishop Thomas’ consultative approach to leadership: articulated in part, during his 2015 homily at priestly ordinations:
“Know what you don’t know. Surround yourself with wise people; experts in the field, consulters, volunteers and staff members… let lay ministry flourish and blossom in your community. Let it be marked by a spirit of mutuality and trust, and the net result will be ministerial acumen, pastoral care, and administrative excellence.”
The first step in the listening process will be for individual parish communities to discuss the hopes and needs that they identify as most relevant. Robust and diverse participation at each location will be key to help ensure that balanced and inclusive priorities are articulated.
Following local gatherings, parish representatives will contribute to regional or deanery listening sessions with DPC members. The information helps garner the scope of the sometimes surprisingly diverse parish communities within our diocesan borders. This second step includes collaborative discussion and helps begin to espouse parish and diocesan sensibilities.
With the listening process complete, the work of prayerful deliberation will begin. The DPC will gather to synthesize the conversations, needs and hopes expressed throughout the planning process. The pastoral plan will be drafted, revised and submitted to the Presbyteral Council for their input. The plan will then be recommended to Bishop Thomas for his approval and promulgation. The new Pastoral Plan, the fruit of the labor of many, will guide the vision, priorities and goals for our diocese for the next five years.
The Pastoral Plan inaugurated in 2007 by Bishop Thomas, Come to the Light, can be found HERE.