First wave of discernment yields insights

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Dozens of parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville have spent the last few months examining their ministries and discerning how God is calling them to live out their faith.

This discernment process was prompted by a pastoral letter written by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz last year. The letter — “Your Parish: The Body of Christ Alive in Our Midst” —  invited parishes to prayerfully enter a period of discernment.

Parishes that piloted the process last summer and those that completed the process last fall  — 19 parishes in all — have identified dozens of strategies and goals they wish to focus on as they plan future ministries and outreach.

The most common topics parishes identified are a desire to improve communication and connect with young Catholics.

“Something that has shown up loud and clear is youth and young adults,” said Richard “Tink” Guthrie, director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Mission Advancement. “Parishes clearly have their eyes on the importance of keeping youth and young adults engaged and planning outreach to them.”

Parishes aren’t concerned about merely making contact, he said. They are seeking intentional outreach that has real substance.

For example, St. Martin de Porres Church plans to “develop social media strategies utilizing youth and young adults to reach and engage the youth and young adults” in the parish, according to the parish’s discernment report.

In addition to outreach to young Catholics, nearly a dozen parishes identified communication as an area of focus.

St. John Paul II Church listed “establish a better method of communicating what Saint John Paul II is doing in the area of service and outreach using 21st century technology, such as apps, Twitter, Instagram” as one strategy.

St. Peter the Apostle Church is considering “a faith-formation communication plan that includes digital communication” as a possible strategy.

All 110 parishes in the archdiocese have been invited to take part in this process of discernment, which includes study, prayer and small group discussions. The process centers on three primary areas: Family

life, education and formation and service and outreach. Participants were asked to develop two to three strategies the parish might adopt in response to these priorities.

Parishes are exploring a variety of ways to address the priorities, including: encouraging others to take turns leading the rosary before Mass, establishing a welcoming/hospitality committee and establishing substance abuse and addiction outreach.

Some parishes called for a process to investigate the feasibility of a Catholic school in West Louisville, better connection between English and Spanish worship communities and increased adult faith-formation opportunities.

Guthrie estimates that more than 90 percent of all parishes in the archdiocese will take part in the process.

About 27 parishes have begun the process as part of wave two. This period runs from January to March. The third and final wave is set to begin in April and will conclude in June. Any remaining parishes that wish to sign up may do so for wave three. A summary of reports submitted by 16 parishes appears below.

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