Parish Newsletter

A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

September, 2009

A Task For the Pastoral Council One of the primary functions of the Pastoral Council is to articulate the mission and purpose of the parish.  The council defines what are the essential elements that describe the parish’s unique character and reason for existing.  One Pastoral Council did just that.  After reflecting on the mission of the parish, writing a statement and asking for reactions and feedback, it came up with the following:   The Mission of St. Maria Goretti Catholic Parish is to be a welcoming and empowering community, centered around the celebration of the Eucharist  and built on faith, so that we can help each other hear and respond to the voices of those around us, providing for their spiritual and material needs.   No One Knows It When the final version was ready, the Pastoral Council sent out a card with the Mission Statement to all the parishioners and then, after filling one entire wall of the Parish Hall with the new statement, threw a party.  Everyone was invited to sign the Mission Statement as a way of affirming and supporting what it said.  That was a few years ago.  Recently, a visiting priest saw the statement on the wall before he celebrated Mass.  During the homily he read the statement, leaving off the parish name.  He then asked whether anyone knew where it came from.  Only a few people raised their hands – they were all Pastoral Council members.  This hit home to the council and at their next meeting they agreed that something had to be done to make this statement better known. Obviously, the statement was not owned by the people.  They decided to pull out three key words from the statement and use them as a way of summarizing the essentials of the parish.  The members wrote down individually what they thought the key words were and shared them with one another other.  After paring down the selection, they settled on these three:   Welcoming – Celebrating – Helping   Options For Spreading the Words The Pastoral Council then turned its attention to how best publicize these words so all the parishioners, and those attending the parish for the first time, would know what the parish stood for.  The council members brainstormed about how this could happen, including such possibilities as putting the words on the cover of the bulletin, on the website, on all parish stationery, on a banner coming into church, on coffee mugs, on mouse pads, on key chains, on magnets for refrigerators, on computer screen-savers, on tee-shirts, on the worship aides at Mass, on yard signs at people’s homes (Come to St. Maria Goretti, where we are Welcoming – Celebrating – Helping).  Then the council members began to get really creative.  “We could make up three banners for the back wall of church,” one person said, “and each week have one of the banners missing.  On the fourth weekend of the month, all three would be down and the congregation would be invited after the homily to share with the person next to them what the three words were and what they stood for.”  Another person suggested, “We could have an art contest for the children centered around the words and hang up the pictures in the Hall, encouraging people to look them over during coffee and donuts.”  “We could have the teenagers write a song or do a skit, presenting it at the next parish picnic.”  Two members of the council were then commissioned to type up the ideas for the next meeting so the council could decide on which ideas to start with.  “No longer,” one person said, “will people be ignorant about what our mission or purpose is as a parish.”