Several years ago our Archdiocese instituted a regional vicariate structure and created three regional vicariates in our Archdiocese. The purpose of the vicariate structure was to “affirm and reinforce the bond between the Archbishop and our parishes.” Three pastors were appointed Vicars for the three vicariates. Among their responsibilities was to visit each of the parishes in their respective vicariates once every three years. The purpose of these visits was to review the ministries, services, programs, activities, and committee structures of each parish to assess the parish’s effectiveness in carrying out the mission of the Church.
This past spring our Basilica community participated in the Archdiocesan visitation process. As part of the process we provided a variety of information and completed a self study report about our parish demographics, our staff, our programs, services, and ministries, our finances, our committee structure, the condition of our buildings and our strategic plan. Our staff and leadership then met with the vicar and a member of the Archdiocesan parish services team to review this information and discuss the primary strengths of our parish, any issues/concerns, and possible areas for strategic goals.
I am pleased to report that our parish visitation went extremely well. Our parish mission, vision and values were noted as great strengths, as well as our vibrant liturgical life and our education programs. We were also commended for our focus on hospitality and welcome, our social outreach, our strong financial situation, and the leadership of the parish, especially our staff and volunteer leaders.
In regard to areas of growth, it was noted that because of our very diverse population we needed to continue to focus on engaging people. Further, the report from the visitation team noted that maintaining our financial stability to support our strategic plan was also an important area of focus; as was maintaining our buildings and campus. We were also challenged to think long-term, and maintain a continuity of staffing and leadership that aligns with the culture and community of the Basilica.
Our parish visitation also challenged us to look at our strategic priorities for the next three years. Specifically these included, inviting parishioners to fully participate in the life of the parish and the proclamation of the Gospel, encouraging parishioners to embrace stewardship as a way of life; continuing to provide excellence in ministry; communicating our vision in our complicated and sometimes challenging world; and managing our human, financial and physical resources with respect and responsibility. The results of our parish visitation will be helpful when we next update our Strategic Plan.
Now I know my perspective is very biased, but I think our parish visitation was a resounding success and a testament to all the good things that go on here at the Basilica. I am enormously grateful to our staff and our parish leadership for the time, effort, skills, and expertise they share with our community. I see God’s hand at work in raising up so many dedicated people to work in ministry and to assume leadership positions in our parish. They are a blessing, both for our community and for me personally.
Certainly there is much more that we can and should challenge ourselves to accomplish as a parish. We can’t rest on our laurels. It occurs to me, though, that it wouldn’t be all that inappropriate to pause and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done before we head into the future with confidence, grace and hope.
Rev. John M. Bauer