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Understanding the Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Grand Rapids

 
Developing a Comprehensive Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry. A pastoral plan establishes a Christ-centered vision for the Diocese. The plan identifies current areas that reflect or that fall short of the vision and establishes goals and actions that move us closer to it. Those desired actions guide the direction of diocesan initiatives and influence how diocesan resources such as staffing and program support are used.
 
The plan reflects the vision and hopes of the bishop, the principal shepherd and teacher of the Catholic community in the diocese, but it is arrived at in community. A process to arrive at a plan that is rooted in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit includes input from all members of the Body of Christ.  The clergy (priests and deacons), religious women and men, diocesan and parish staff, lay leaders of diocesan and pastoral councils, elders, families, and youth and young adults, all have a perspective on what is needed to bring us closer to Christ. Their ideas, shared with civility and respect for legitimate differences will help to inform the discussion by the bishop and his advisors in the formulation of the final plan.
 
It is vital that we as a Church community come together, talk about who we are as church, and how we can work together as we move into the future. Pastoral planning is not a program. It is a continual process that prayerfully discerns how the Church is being called by God to live out our mission of evangelization today. This is done through prayerful reflection, consideration of Church teachings, listening to the faithful and discerning the situation together.
 
While the creation, implementation, and evaluation of our Diocesan pastoral plan is the most visible goal, other goals are equally important when considering the vitality and sustainability of the diocese. These help to determine how the pastoral planning is done. They include the following: (1) To deepen relationships and encourage a community dialogue around mission; (2) To educate everyone about the Diocese, the “local church”; and (3) To encourage participation in various ministries.
Specifically, the Diocesan Pastoral Plan involves a comprehensive consideration of the following questions: (1) Who are we and where are we? (2) Who and where are we called to be? (3) How do we get from where we are to where we are called to be? These are deceptively simple questions that lead to further questions.
 
To explore who we are involves gathering demographic and socioeconomic data. It asks what are our present activities and how are we using our resources in relation to our mission. Where are we is a question that calls us to consider our strengths and limitations as the Catholic community in West Michigan. It asks us to consider the context in which we are trying to live faithfully our call to discipleship, both in terms of the larger Church as well as in terms of the world around us.
 
Considering our call requires prayerful discernment about how the larger church understands itself and how that understanding is enfleshed in present-day West Michigan. It leads to a clear statement of the church’s mission and vision that is right for our time and place but based on the timeless truths of our faith. It requires that we ask challenging questions about what needs to change so that we are closer as a church community to the vision the church holds out to us, the call of Christian disciples in community.
 
Finally, considering how we get from where we are now to where we are called to be asks us to take action to bring the needed changes about. These actions should be concrete and practical, based on the realistic assessment we’ve done in the previous steps. They should have someone accountable and with the needed resources for carrying them out. And because we are a pilgrim community of disciples following Christ, we are continually growing and changing, becoming a clearer reflection of our Lord in this land and in this time.
 

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