A Sneak Peek Into The Visioning Process

Bishop Johnston addresses those in attendance for the opening listening session of the Visioning Process at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in St. Joseph, Mo. Photo courtesy of Dino Durando. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer and Megan Marley

Without a vision the people lose restraint; but happy is the one who follows instruction (Proverbs 29:18).

With a goal to draft a vision statement for the next five years, the diocesan Visioning Team has been meeting for about two and a half months, reviewing, discussing and reflecting on the results of the listening sessions held earlier this year.

Since Aug. 13, the team has met four times at the Catholic Center in downtown Kansas City. Two more meetings are scheduled, one next month and one in December for a total of seven meetings.

The visioning team is made up of people from a range of locations and ministries in the diocese, including Fr. Joe Cisetti, Jennifer Doolittle, Dino Durando, Dain Finney, Arturo Gonzalez, Fr. Tom Holder, Karen Miller, Deacon Jim Olshefski, Frank Uryasz, Annette Weeks and Bishop James Johnston, Jr. Their meetings are held under the direction of Barbara Eckert, Senior Consultant and Visioning Process Facilitator of the Catholic Leadership Institute.

Eckert, who hails from Tacoma, Wash., travels to Kansas City for the team meetings.

Father Joe Cisetti, pastor of St. Therese Parish in Parkville, said it is an honor to have been asked to serve on the team and hopes “this process will unite the people of our diocese and draw us closer together in Christ.” He added that he feels excited by the listening session findings, what the team is working on and the hope it’s giving this diocese.

“It’s going well,” he said. “I’m pleased with what we’re discovering so far. Working on a vision statement is rather like modeling with clay to create a figure.”

He hopes the team creates a vision/mission statement that the whole diocese can gather around.

“There’s re-doing and fine tuning before it’s perfect,” he said.

It certainly will take collaboration a to create a finished plan to present to the diocese.

“I think the biggest challenge is to really look and be able to find the common problem for the parishes,” said Arturo Gonzalez, a parishioner at Holy Family in Kansas City. He’s seen quite a few people and parishes over the past two decades as a Prayer and Life Workshop coordinator, within the Hispanic community and as a Navy radiology tech, and said that though everyone has personal priorities, they are actively working to put the biggest common needs on top.

“Once things get together, the needs and the resources and the solutions, I think there’s gonna be a better community—I think it’s going to be more people involved in the Church,” he concluded.

Karen Miller, past director of Morning Glory Ministries and a parishioner at Visitation Parish in Kansas City, said the team is a very prayerful group. “We start every meeting with Mass,” she said.

Bishop Johnston had the opportunity to view the tower statue at Holy Rosary up close just before the July 28 listening session. (photo courtesy of Dino Durando)

Miller added that she had attended several of the listening sessions and “they were a holy, moving experience. We’ve been reflecting a lot on what we learned from the sessions, including the emails and worksheets completed by those who attended but didn’t speak. It’s been interesting to see what the people of this diocese suggest, and we’re working to find a pattern, a central theme.”

“Crafting (a vision statement) is a hard process to anticipate. We’ve shared similar and very different ideas. But’s exciting; the path has been laid now and we’re going to have something we can put our arms around.”

As someone who “on a day to day basis helps people have their dreams come true as entrepreneurs” as Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Missouri Western State University, Annette Weeks knows how important it is to plan a vision for the future of the diocese.

“I think it’s very important for our diocese to have this, and I appreciate that the bishop has taken this on so in order for us to have cohesiveness as a diocese to establish goals for the whole diocese,” she said. “Defining it and creating a vision, it’s important for us all to feel that we’re in this together.”

Coming from Savannah, Mo., Weeks knows the challenges of small rural parish life and the tendency to feel disconnected from the goings-on in the city.

“Through this visioning session, we are seeing great ways that we can improve on in order to better create unity within our diocese,” she said.

Jennifer Doolittle concurs.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people who have a vision that’s very focused on bringing people closer to God and into the Kingdom and that has been a really joyous side effect of the visioning process for me,” said the mother of six, who also helps with PSR and youth ministry in her home parish of St. Peter’s in Stanberry and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Gregory Barbarigo’s in Maryville.

“As the bishop talks about a lot and as we all talk about in our visioning processes, our overall goal is to get all of us to heaven—that’s why we’re here.”


  1. October 28, 2018 at 1:25 pm #

    The only “vision” in the future is that the churches will be empty in 20 years.
    Do you not look at the age of any given congregation at Mass on Sunday?
    Do you not see that what the Church is doing, ain’t working?
    Are you prepared to seriously deal with the problems in the Church?

    No. I didn’t think so.

    Keep on whistling in the graveyard.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

September 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph