By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Expanded hospitality, a more intentional ministry for young families and improved Hispanic ministry were common goals identified by many of the parishes discerning the future of their ministry this spring.
Thirty-one parishes participated in the third and final wave of the Archdiocese of Louisville parish discernment process.
Parishes took part in a process to discern their future at the urging of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz. He promulgated a pastoral letter in December of 2016 called “Your Parish: The Body of Christ Alive in Our Midst.” It invited parishes to prayerfully enter a period of discernment to consider how God was calling them to live their faith.
All 110 parishes in the archdiocese were invited to participate in the process, which included prayer, study and discussion among parishioners.
The letter identified three areas for parishioners to consider: 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.
A number of parishes identified the need for a more robust hospitality ministry.
For example, St. Christopher Church in Radcliff, Ky., plans to “foster unity as a family in the Body of Christ” by holding dinners to welcome new families, according to the parish’s report.
St. Christopher also detailed plans to develop a hospitality ministry by creating welcoming packets for new families and “by forming a group of ‘parish ambassadors’ who are available to go beyond the usher’s handshake at the door to welcome a new family to the parish and answer questions they may have.”
Other parishes such as Good Shepherd in Columbia, Ky., Holy Redeemer in Greensburg, Ky., and Holy Spirit in Jamestown, Ky., also noted ways to “increase hospitality at parishes by recruiting additional meeters and greeters.”
Sal Della Bella, director of the Office of Parish Leadership Development, said the recurrent theme of hospitality indicates that parishioners “have a genuine love of their faith and a desire to share it with others.”
Numerous other parishes identified the need for hospitality to include welcoming and formation for families with young children.
St. John the Apostle Church in Brandenburg, Ky., identified the need to develop a family-mentoring program for existing and new families “to provide a supportive environment to parents in raising their children.”
St. Gabriel Church, St. Gregory Church in Samuels, Ky., and Our Lady of the Hills in Finley, Ky., also detailed initiatives to reach out and minister to families.
Just as in the first two waves of the discernment process, parishes also identified a need to better minister to their Hispanic brothers and sisters as a priority.
Leaders of Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky., noted plans to better blend the cultures at the parish by working “with the Hispanic Ministry Committee to address cultural issues, increase Hispanic representation on the Parish Council and other committees and educate parishioners about Hispanic cultural traditions.”
“It shows both a recognition and appreciation for the changing face of our church and the gift of diversity,” said Della Bella.
Della Bella said it was evident that parishes “took to heart the archbishop’s pastoral letter and his invitation to discern God’s hope for us.”
“My hope is that, in response to their discernment, parishes continue to develop their identified resources utilizing the gifts from their own parish, other parishes throughout the archdiocese and the many resources the archdiocesan agencies have to offer,” he said.
A total of 80 parishes completed the discernment process. The Record has published their results in two previous special sections and in this week’s paper.
Six parishes participated in a pilot phase in the spring of 2017, 13 in the first wave during the fall of 2017 and 26 in the second wave in the winter of 2018.
Some parishes in the second wave were still working on their final reports when the second wave report was published in May. They are included in this week’s section.
Some parishes in the third wave used a different schedule or a different process. Their reports are not included in the summary.
If a parish did not complete the discernment process and is interested in doing so, contact Della Bella for more information at 585-3291.