Shared Vision for Our Diocese

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Vision statement for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is here.

Remember the listening sessions held throughout this diocese in July, and the updates on the progress of the Visioning Team? After months of prayer, discernment and discussion, it has all come together in the statement: One Family: Restored in Christ – Equipped for Mission.

A letter from Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., accompanied the Vision statement, with its priorities and goals, which was mailed to all registered Catholics in the diocese at the end of January.

There are three major areas of focus — priorities — and several goals within each priority with outcomes by 2020, 2021 and 2022.  The three priorities, of equal importance to the diocese, are Healing Our Family, Using Resources Wisely and Growing God’s Family.

There are two goals under Healing Our Family. The first is establishing “Journey to Bethany,” a diocesan healing center to address a variety of wounds — beginning with the sufferings of victims of the abuse scandal in the Church and other sufferings people bear. The name of the healing center refers to Bethany, the town where Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus lived, where Jesus visited and later raised Lazarus from the dead. 

Part of the healing process involves recognition of the hurt or sorrow, as well as restoration for those hurting as part of the family of Christ again.   

The second goal will be implemented in March of this year. “The Light Is On For You,” a reconciliation initiative, will be introduced in Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan parishes as of Ash Wednesday, March 6, and encouraged, especially during Lent.  Bishop Johnston hopes parishes will “use this heightened time to shine the light on the sacrament and its availability.”

The three goals of Using Resources Wisely include Implementing gift and charism programs throughout the diocese to actuate Catholics for service and mission by Pentecost 2020. A comprehensive resource strategy is to be created by October 2021. And, since there is no diocesan camp or retreat center facility within the 27-county area, the third goal of Using Resources Wisely is to establish a retreat center and youth camp facility for use by youth ministries, families and large groups by May 2022.

The third priority is Growing God’s Family — building a culture of discipleship in all parishes by activating the baptismal call to holiness.  The first goal includes implementing The Clear Path for Discipleship, a process to help parishes understand the thresholds of conversion and form plans to address the needs of people at every stage of faith development and to form missionary disciples through workshops, leadership development, consulting and resource training. Parishes will be equipped for effective evangelization, which will Grow God’s Family. A diocesan conference to assist the development of parish leadership parishes is planned by October 2020.

The second goal, the crafting of a comprehensive Youth to Young Adult Initiative, including an earlier age for reception of the sacrament of Confirmation, is to be completed by November 2022.

Reflecting over the Listening Sessions in July and the monthly meetings held from mid-August through December to pray, discuss and discern what Catholics in diocese wanted for the upcoming years, Visioning Team member Father Tom Holder, pastor of Our Lady of the Presentation Parish in Lee’s Summit commented that the listening sessions were well attended by a good cross section of the diocese. “We took their concerns into consideration,” he said, and with the faith-filled finesse and adroitness of facilitator “Barb Eckert of the Catholic Leadership Institute, we made good progress and had the Vision Statement, priorities and goals crafted and approved on time. The process was a good one, the diversity of the diocese was well represented.”

Annette Weeks, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish (Savannah), and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Missouri Western State University, is “excited that we, as a diocese, have this vision we all work toward in unity!” Looking back over the process that began with the listening sessions, she said what really struck her was the bishop’s leadership and his understanding of how this vision was needed here, on many levels. She also remarked on the obvious pain he felt over what this diocese has gone through in the past decade. She hopes that parishes and families will take all three priorities, apply them to their particular situations and come up with their own goals and needs and how to accomplish them.

Bernardino Durando, diocesan Director of the Office of the Domestic Church and Discipleship, coordinator of the Vision Implementation Team, said the stated Vision goals are firm, but the ways of accomplishing them will vary by parishes and families. He said the team would continue to communicate the progress of goals, to keep people updated. He also said, “People understand their gifts— often referred to as time, talent and treasure — but it is also important that Catholics discover the gifts received at Baptism, the spiritual gifts.”

Bishop Johnston thought over the past six months and said, “Those months were encouraging. People in this diocese have a great eagerness for the Church to be at her best. They’ve been waiting for the Church’s leadership to engage that passion and direct it toward the benefit of the diocese and others.” With a smile he added, “There is a great love here for the Church! People want to be active in parishes, united in heart, mind and soul — One Family.”

He hopes that in the future, “we will be leading people to Jesus Christ and assisting them to be his disciples, one by one. We have to be aware of the signs of the times and the situations to be more effective in evangelizing — intentional disciples. I see intentional discipleship as part of our Catholic culture, meeting Jesus through the invitation of another person.”

So, what is the next step in becoming One Family: Restored in Christ – Equipped for Mission.? The diocese will begin to activate the Mutually Shared Vision for the diocese by celebrating a Holy Year of Renewal. The Holy Year will start Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019) and conclude on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, Jan. 12, 2020. “As good as the plans in the Vision are, with clearly stated Priorities and Goals, it’s ultimately not about what we are doing, it’s about what God is doing through us,” Bishop Johnston said. “The Holy Year is a spiritual time to reflect upon the Vision in a personal and communal way in our homes and parishes.”

Ash Wednesday, March 6, is less than a month away. As our diocese actuates its Vision with the Holy Year of Renewal, may all of us be united, healed, restored in Christ and grow God’s family over the upcoming years.

The diocesan visioning/implementation team paused for lunch and a group photo on the last day of planning meetings in December. Pictured from left to right in back are Frank Uryasz, Fr. Joseph Cisetti, Karen Miller, Arturo Gonzalez, Dain Finney Dino Durando, and Fr. Tom Holder. In front, Deacon Jim Olshefski, Annette Weeks, Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., Jennifer Doolittle and Catholic Leadership Institute consultant Barbara Eckert. (Megan Marley/Key photo)


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November 27, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph