UNLEASH THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Planning a New Structure for our Diocese
“As Catholics, we need a reawakening—a renewal and intensification of living our faith in the Church and the world. It is time to rise from our slumber, from any complacency, fear, distractions, ungodly cultural values or indifference so the grace of God in us can be unleashed.”
~ Bishop Donald DeGrood
If we are to disrupt the current trends in our culture of declining religious practice and Mass attendance, we have to change the way we live as Catholics. We must go out on an apostolic mission.
The changes we will make through structural and pastoral planning, coupled with continued efforts toward Lifelong Catholic Missionary Discipleship Through God’s Love, will set us on a path to have the fire of the Holy Spirit “set ablaze” in our hearts.
Then it is up to us as the people of God to go out and unleash that fire, that love of God, so that everyone around us will know we are His and will be drawn to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
A vibrant parish is filled with Catholics who desire a personal relationship with Jesus,
deep connections with others, the sacraments of the Church, and the evangelization of those
around them, accomplished through missionary discipleship.
The more our parishes are filled with on-fire Catholics like this,
the more God will be felt in the world around us.
Personal Relationship with Jesus
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The current reality of our diocese is that we have been in decline in Mass attendance (down 12%), reception of sacraments, attendance in religious education and Catholic schools, and numbers of registered Catholic households (down 6% while eastern South Dakota’s population grew 12%) for decades.
Our secular culture has not helped, but we also on the whole have not been prioritizing our faith. These trends must be disrupted if we are to see growing, vibrant parishes.
WHY DO WE NEED TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR PARISH AND PASTORATE STRUCTURES?
We are a diocese with a rich history of faithful and resilient Catholic people committed to the Church, their faith, their families and the local parish.
We have strong financial positions in most of our parishes with a culture of good stewardship and a need for facility maintenance.
As a diocese, we have all been invited to enter a life of missionary discipleship where we are healthy, happy, holy and hard-working faithful Catholics developing “fires”—pockets of missionary discipleship being practiced by the clergy and faithful.
A clear need to invigorate the spiritual, pastoral and sacramental life of parishes and parishioners across the diocese and to disrupt a decade of downward trends in Mass attendance, reception of sacraments, and Catholic school enrollment.
A need for parishes to welcome, integrate, and evangelize all peoples and cultures.
There is a decline in active participation from laity in the local ministry of the church and a need to develop local parish culture and identity independent of the priest or pastor serving.
HOW DO WE BECOME A REVITALIZED DIOCESE?
How do we become a revitalized diocese? By living as dynamic Lifelong Catholic Missionary Disciples through God’s Love. This requires rejecting ungodly humanistic ways of thinking and acting, and asking God to renew us in a world so longing for peace and happiness that will only be found in and through God.
It will require spending time and energy developing a deep personal relationship with God and reaching out to others in our parishes and Catholic institutions. This will require that we step into a co-responsibility between clergy and parishioners in the life and mission of the Church.
A new chapter of our rich tradition with new structures, a new call, new energy, and a focus toward growth rather than decline.
Missionary discipleship, which needs to be clear, nurtured, supported and guided, is the compelling vision for the life of the Church.
Healthy, happy, holy and hard-working priests and parishioners engaged in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as missionary disciples.
Center of Life
The use of parish and pastorate ministry and evangelization to reset the Catholic parish as a center of life for the faithful and the community.
Engaging, welcoming and impactful liturgies prayed in churches filled with people.
Engage the local faithful who are most impacted by pastoral planning and know the parish best.
INVITATION TO ENGAGE
This will not always be easy and likely will push us out of the comfort we have grown accustomed to, but Jesus tells us over and over in Scripture to “be not afraid.” In fact, right after his transfiguration, the apostles with him had fallen to the ground in fear. Jesus says to them, “Rise, and do not be afraid” (Matthew 17:7).
Jesus says this to us now as well. We must rise from our slumber, allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with fervor for our faith, and then unleash that fire of the Holy Spirit so that others may be converted.