By Mark Haney
The Catholic Times
LANSING — “Feed My Sheep,” a report written by the Task Force on Discipleship and Engagement, helped Bishop Earl Boyea formulate the plans he cites in his first pastoral letter, “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
The task force, made up of Deacon Daniel Foley of Christ the King Parish in Ann Arbor, Craig Pohl of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Fowler, Fr. John Byers of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Lansing, Sharon Falinski of Holy Spirit Parish in Hamburg and Patricia Nickerson of Cristo Rey Parish in Lansing, in consultation with Fr. Steve Mattson, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Lansing; Sr. Rita Wenzlick, O.P., director of the Office of Pastoral Planning; and Patrick O’Brien of Faith Publishing, came up with a number of recommendations in their December report.
- A year of prayer to include 40 hours of prayer in each parish in the diocese, Mass intercessions and prayer in diocesan schools, home school groups and religious education classes asking for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, diocesan-wide prayer, including requests for similar efforts by religious communities and intercessory groups for new grace in preaching and evangelization and a common prayer to be said at the end of each Mass in the diocese for a year.
- A pastoral letter on evangelization, engagement and discipleship.
- A diocesan-wide evangelization conference “to teach the what, how, who and why of evangelization, engagement and discipleship.”
- Regional missions so parishes can share recommendations and strategies.
- Parish integration retreats to help each parish implement the plans drawn up by the diocese and regional missions.
- A Central Services retreat to help with implementation of the plan and to get each diocesan body to place evangelization, engagement and discipleship as a standing agenda item.
- Establishment of an Office of Evangelization, Engagement and Discipleship to work with parishes to implement the plan, to report annually on progress, to find and evaluate resources for the diocese and parish and to identify pilot parishes where resources can be tested.
- Establishment of an evangelization, engagement and discipleship commission to consult with parishes to determine their needs, assist parishes in drawing up an action plan, to help parishes with resources, define criteria for measuring results, share results via reports, and develop online sharing and reporting of best practices.
- Creation of more and better support for priests, including a preaching support group, regular opportunities for preaching improvement and standards a priest must reach before becoming a pastor.
- For each parish and all diocesan leaders to use technology and new media to evangelize and engage with people.
“The Church’s mission to evangelize involves every outreach,” the report concludes, “such as higher education, charitable activities, health care, public advocacy, restorative justice and outreach to immigrants. All those involved in the work of the Church, not just those at the parish and diocesan level, need to embrace the demands of the call to evangelize into every activity undertaken for the Kingdom of God.”