Strategic Plan & Stella Maris FAQs

1. Why a Strategic Plan?

“Without a vision, the people will perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) Bishop Berg, as carrier of the vision, is leading us into a “future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Pope Francis is providing the inspiration, who in The Joy of the Gospel (EG) taught us: “Each particular Church, as a portion of the Catholic Church under the leadership of its bishop, is likewise called to missionary conversion.

To make this missionary impulse ever more focused, generous and fruitful, I encourage each particular Church to undertake a resolute process of discernment, purification and reform” (EG, no. 30). We need both the right playbook and a healthy, effective team to start moving forward and experiencing victories in Jesus Christ. All our values and communication need to be clear and well-aligned, keeping us strong to carry out the work of the mission, which is outlined in the various elements of the Strategic Plan, which helps us understand who we are called to be, how we are meant to operate, and which priorities to focus on especially over the next 3 to 5 years.

2. What is the Stella Maris?

From the Hymn, Alma Redemptoris Mater, traditionally sung at the end of Compline (i.e. Night Prayer) from Advent through the Christmas Season, Stella Maris is one of the titles for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, as she guides the ark of the Church to the shores of eternity. We look to her to set our course, correctly. Now that our diocese is making things more “mission-oriented” (EG, no. 27), which includes how we organize our staffing and resources to meet the needs of the New Evangelization, the Stella Maris diagram shows how we are focusing ourselves intentionally and as servants for the broader diocese, according to the various categories involved, with the “missionary aspiration of reaching everyone” (EG, no. 31).

3. Who do I call with what?

One of the biggest needs and requests through feedback, which would offer immensely practical service in bridging the gaps between the diocesan offices and our parishes, is having a point of contact for each of the various areas of ministry and administration. For that reason, we have reworked the Organizational Structure (a.k.a. “org chart”) to compliment the Stella Maris and better lay out how things stack up internally, in the various offices/departments of the Catholic Pastoral Center.

4. How does all this fit together?

The Joy of the Gospel, as an Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father, serves as our mandate, or marching orders. He explains: “Here I have chosen to present some guidelines which can encourage and guide the whole Church in a new phase of evangelization, one marked by enthusiasm and vitality…I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear” (EG, no. 17 & 33). This will continue to be the larger umbrella, under which the other components come into play.

The 4 Levels of Happiness (www.spitzercenter.org/what-we-do/educate/four-levels-of-happiness/) from Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. and the Spitzer Center for Visionary Leadership, addresses the culture of the diocese. It provides a construct for understanding the consequences of our desires and decisions. We will be striving to operate primarily out of Levels 3 & 4 (others-centered; God-centered) happiness, engaging in win-win scenarios. Presentations have been scheduled in all the deaneries, specific dates are listed on page 4.

Forming Intentional Disciples from Sherry Weddell at the May 2017 Study Days is a way of helping people discover where they are in their lived relationship with God, passing through the five thresholds of conversion (initial trust, spiritual curiosity, spiritual openness, spiritual seeking, and intentional discipleship), so as to enter into authentic apostolic activity for the life of the Church in the world. Deaneries are invited to apply for grant money from The Catholic Foundation and host the Ananias Training from the Siena Institute (www.siena.org), as the follow-up formation to last Spring’s conference.

The Amazing Parish (www.amazingparish.org)is a movement coaching and equipping people for improving parish health, enhancing The Sunday Experience, plus creating a culture of discipleship and evangelization. They provide professional consultation to help pastors and their teams (staff/volunteers) to better work together and come up with plans that will work for them. This is why they will be facilitating the upcoming May 2018 Convocation.

All of these tools are flexible and meant to be used as needed, to our advantage. While none of them is sufficient alone, unable to provide an all-inclusive “blueprint” or “silver bullet,” each has the potential to enhance our parishes, families, and lives greatly, and are especially helpful as a bridge to those entering the Church, coming back home, or trying to kindle the fire of their faith. Ideally, every parish will start creating “paths of discipleship” for customizing their formation, events and opportunities, personnel and resources according to their own unique needs, with wonderful outcomes. We are currently looking into how to make the May 2019 Study Days able to provide more specific training in key areas to those involved in various ministry categories.

5. What’s going on with the May Study Days this year?

Pope Francis has said: “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way.’ I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities” (EG, no. 33). The bishops of our nation have already begun to lead the way along these very lines, primarily in the Convocation of Catholic Leaders this past July in Florida, with groundbreaking results. It was so effective, that we are bringing the concept back home for a similar engaging experience. As bishops brought delegations to Florida, so we are asking every pastor to bring a team/delegation from his parish, so that all of us can receive the training we need to begin to put all this together into a more cohesive whole, connecting the dots and implementing what truly works for long-term results. More information will be provided directly to the priests in terms of how to pick and prepare their teams for this very special Diocese of Pueblo Convocation, May 7 to10, 2018.

6. How did all of this come about?

Stemming from a long tradition of consultative processes and strategic planning, there were listening sessions held approximately six years ago, with the bishop and diocesan officials traveling to every deanery and including every parish, in order to really dig in to what’s going on and what is needed. The outcome is very important data that is being taken seriously, allowing us to hear the people of God “loud and clear” and truly do something about it. This is the foundational work already accomplished, which means the faithful have been involved since the beginning, and now your efforts and prayers are coming to a more focused and tangible fruition. Next, Bishop Berg began meeting with the Presbyteral Council & deans to look at how to put all of this into some kind of actionable plan, with the help of professional consultation and the experience of our pastors serving in this capacity, who in turn are being asked to help gain buy-in from the rest of the clergy. Bishop Berg also formed a Senior Staff (leadership team) to assist him with the tactical decision-making and implementation for the mission-oriented operations of the Catholic Pastoral Center, assisting with priorities and addressing the health of our culture. Now, the mission has a playbook (Strategic Plan) and a diocesan team with a culture plan, to get the job done. The culture of an organization includes how structures and systems are set up and function to support the shared values and beliefs that guide the thinking and behavior within the group for the fulfillment of the mission priories, with things like good communication, teamwork, purpose, and trust.

7. Why does this matter to me?

This matters to you, because YOU matter! Each and every one of us is essential to the success of the mission, and having a role provides a greater sense of meaning and purpose, which we all deeply and eagerly crave in our lives. We have the chance here to do something great, together, and with long-range consequences that will benefit our children’s children and beyond. If our priests and our parishioners are on board, then we have the possibility of elevating our parishes to a level of greatness none of us have ever even seen before, as field hospitals, places of prayer, hotbeds of evangelization, strengthening our families in holiness, and producing all the various and needed vocations in the Church.

Pope Francis says it this way: “The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community…This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few…It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach” (EG, no. 28).

Or, more to the point for each of us individually, one of his final conclusions, which we are meant to apply to ourselves personally, is: “My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an ‘extra’ or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing” (EG, no. 273).

You ARE a mission on this earth. It’s why you’re HERE. And we believe that an essential part of your mission, is being a part of the mission of the Diocese of Pueblo, primarily through your local parish. We can’t do it without you. YOU simply matter that much!

The Strategic Plan took effect January 25, 2018, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Please contact Father Matthew Wertin (mwertin@dioceseofpueblo.org) with any further questions, concerns, and/or requests for clarification.