It has been almost two years since we began our discernment process in which we asked ourselves three question; Where are we as a parish? Where is God calling us to go? and How are we going to get there? To facilitate this planning process, the Parish Council used a comprehensive, highly acclaimed self-study program called Best Practices for Parishes. This program, the culmination of studying dynamic parishes throughout the U.S, incorporates the seven key components of a vibrant Catholic community. In using this process, we reflected honestly and asked ourselves, with regard to each area of parish life, “Are we doing this well, adequately, to some extent, or not at all?" And then we graded ourselves.
Because of our size and diversity, we adapted the process to meet the realities of our parish. We hundreds of people formed self-study groups for each of the different components. Many of these were further divided into language groups in order to capture the differences in experiences and practices. After each study group finished, the results were tabulated. Then, in a town meeting format with all three language groups together, hundreds of you assembled again, all parishioners interested in a particular aspect of our communal life. We discussed differences and similarities, what we do well or not so well and recommended to the Parish Council our top priorities for the next three years. These conversations helped us to develop a whole new understanding for the giftedness and distinctness of each community and a new appreciation of what we have to learn from one another. Based on these insights the Parish Council drafted an overall vision for our parish, along with a set of goals designed to bring that vision to reality. The goals, then, were returned to the original study groups to develop a concrete action plan and time line.
If all this sounds complicated and a little messy, Welcome to St Camillus!! Before this, this program had never been used in a parish of our size and diversity, but by using a Best Practices model, we have utilized a national standard of excellence against which to measure ourselves. Our parish will never be “perfect,” for the kingdom always lies beyond us. The important thing is that we are challenging ourselves to follow where God is calling us, although it may cause us to leave behind our comfort zones an empower us to dream a new future. The plan that we have developed, with the input of hundreds of you hopefully does that. You have shared you opinions, concerns and aspiration and hopefully you will find them reflected in this strategic plan of almost 80 pages that will guide us as a community for the next three years. We are in particular indebted to four people, Terry Sabonis-Helf, Nancy Wiltz, Mike Miehl, and Fr. Jacek, without whole hundreds of hours of organizing, this never would have been possible.
The complete plan is available on the website and we encourage all to prayerfully spend time with it and ask yourself the questions: “What about this plan excites me?” “Where is God calling me to share the gifts that He has invested in me.” Over the course of the next two months in the bulletin, we will be unveiling the goals and proposals for each area, with information on how to become involved in a particular area of the plan. Through this visioning of our shared future, we seek to work together as one community to become the parish that God intends us to be, as we seek to respond to the challenge of the Gospel in this time, in this place and with this community, with all its diversity, with all its challenges, with all its blessedness.