New Document Highlights Mutually Shared Vision for the Diocese of Gaylord
On November 24, the Feast of Christ the King, the Diocese of Gaylord released the document, “Shining Christ’s Light: Sunrise to Sunset,” which shares insights gained through an envisioning process to discern a Mutually Shared Vision and charts a path for the future for the Catholic Church in northern Lower Michigan. The title reflects the vision statement that will help guide the Diocese of Gaylord over the next five years. Drawn from the Holy Scriptures and the Eucharistic prayers, the vision statement “Shining Christ’s Light: Sunrise to Sunset” also offers the beautiful geographic east-west imagery of the Diocese of Gaylord as we seek to live out our baptismal call to “walk as children of the Light” and respond to God’s love by serving the Lord and this local Church, which stretches from the “Sunrise Side” to the “Sunset Side” of our State.
Funded in large part by a grant from the Catholic Extension Society, and facilitated through the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) in Pennsylvania, the envisioning process included hosting listening sessions in parishes throughout the diocese in 2012, as well as meetings with priests, staff and youth, to receive input to questions such as, “What does the Diocese of Gaylord do well?”, “What should we do differently?”, and “What do you believe should be the top three priorities for the Church in the Diocese of Gaylord?” With the guidance of CLI, the bishop and the directors of the diocesan secretariats then prayed and reflected on the information received through those sessions, the needs and dreams expressed by the faithful of the diocese both formally and informally, as well as their individual and collective experiences and observations through their work and interactions with parishes and schools. “Shining Christ’s Light: Sunrise to Sunset,” offers the insights shared by parishioners, hopes for the future and a plan for the journey.
The envisioning process helped to define our Sacred Purpose -- why we exist as a diocese in this time and place – as being: “In response to God’s love, the Faithful of the Diocese of Gaylord, relying upon the Sacraments, Catholic Tradition, and prayer, seek to form a community that hopes in Christ, shares the Good News and lives the Gospel of justice and peace.” Five core values were identified as most important for the diocese which include prayer and worship, catechesis, evangelization, communio and service. The new vision document outlines each of these values in detail.
Three areas surfaced as priorities for the Church in the Diocese of Gaylord throughout the process: Evangelization, Faith Formation and Communications. These will be the focus areas for the diocese for the next several years. To help address the concerns expressed by the faithful, six goals (two within each priority area) have been set and teams, made of up clergy and laity from across the diocese, were selected to begin working to help achieve those goals, which are specifically:
· At least 40 parishes have fully implemented diocesan protocols for creating hospitable parish environment by Jan 1, 2015.
· At least 50 parishes have no less than one team participating in an ongoing training process for empowering the faithful in evangelization by July 31, 2014.
· Raise ($2M) to advance the use of technologies and provide training to unify the diocese (chancery, parishes, schools and institutions) by January 24, 2015.
· Publish a model reflecting best practices for communication throughout the diocese by September 29, 2014.
· At least 20 parishes in the diocese have successfully implemented a comprehensive approach to Stewardship by May 24, 2015.
· At least 25% increase in the number of parishes in each Vicariate having met or exceeded diocesan guidelines for lifelong faith formation by September 20, 2015.
With the support of the Diocesan Administrator Msgr. Francis Murphy, this work is continuing.
As the Universal Church closes the Year of Faith and begins the Season of Advent, traditionally a time of waiting and preparation, the Diocese of Gaylord also awaits the appointment of a new bishop. To help the faithful prepare for Christmas, as well as a new shepherd to lead our diocese, a series of daily reflections for each week of Advent and leading up to Epiphany have been produced. Focusing on the five core values presented in “Shining Christ’s Light: Sunrise to Sunset,” the materials are appropriate for use by individuals, families, schools and parishes for personal or group reflection and discussion.
“Shining Christ’s Light: Sunrise to Sunset, A Mutually Shared Vision” may be downloaded below. The weekly reflection materials are available below.