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Deacon's Corner 4/21/2024

As you read in Fr. Todd’s cover letter for this bulletin, the combined parish staffs have been working to develop a framework for Parish Pastoral Plans.  The process to create these plans is guided by diocesan workshops which include understanding the Disciple Maker Index (DMI) feedback, determining parish priorities, and identifying goals for a successful plan.  Feedback from the DMI was a critical input for developing these plans.  The following are highlights of the DMI survey with more details to follow later:


The number of parishioners responding was low at 17% for Sacred Heart and 20% for St. Mary on the Lake.  However, these percentages are consistent with results of other parishes across the diocese.  The workshops taught us how to “read between the lines” to determine what the limited data is actually telling us.  The majority of the respondents are women and married.  Interestingly enough, the responses for both parishes were very similar. 


Almost all respondents identified themselves as Catholic and baptized as children.  Most of you said you considered your faith to be most important in your life and your faith was growing, but about 20% said Jesus was not a friend.  Most of you agreed the parish helps you develop a prayer life, with vibrant Masses and homilies that connect to your faith.  However, some of you (29% for both parishes) felt the music ministry could be better.  The majority agreed that the parish is welcoming, but there is room for improvement.


There was wide agreement on Church doctrine: Jesus died and rose for you (99%), the Eucharist is really the Body and Blood of Jesus (98%), Scripture is the word of God (95%), and with Jesus’ moral teachings (96%).  However, over half of you did not feel confident answering questions about our faith or personally witnessing to others.  Although many of you felt the parish provided you with additional resources like retreats, many of you wanted more and to be connected to a faith sharing group.  Most of you agree the parish taught you to read and pray with the Bible and most said it helped form you as a disciple of Christ.


Most of you agree the parishes encourage you to be involved, while supporting you and your family.  About 35% felt you were not involved in parish decisions, though a clear majority said information about the parish and its finances is readily available.  Overwhelmingly you agreed you would recommend the current pastor, the parish, and the staff to others.  Most of you felt the parish was on the right track.


With all of that to go on, we are nearing completion of Pastoral Plans for both parishes and working on action steps to achieve their goals.  The plans are based on four priorities identified during the workshops:  growth, worship, service, and parish programs.  All of this will be shared with you as we begin to roll out the plan within the next month.


We are very grateful to parishioners Kathy and Bill Koshelnyk for the many hours they put in to consolidate the DMI data into something meaningful, and draft parish plans from our staff notes.  Our combined staff of Anne Atkin (school Principal), Tammy Houser and Suzzanne Sinkovitz (Office Managers), James Bonar (seminarian), Fr. Ginu, Fr. Todd, and myself appreciate your feedback and look forward to presenting the plan to you.  If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to ask.  Enjoy our beautiful Spring in Michigan!


Deacon John


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