St. John Neumann Parish
Growing an Engaged Church
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church . . .” (Matthew 16:18)
Using these words, Jesus founded one Church, to be inherited through all generations, to carry on His ministry. As a people and institution—as heirs of the one Church—St. John Neumann Parish is appointed to this mission. In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, the gentle spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, and the lives of other holy men and women of the Church, we receive many examples to guide our apostleship. There are acts and teachings that call us to fellowship, reverence, spiritual development, good works, and conscious regard for God’s generosity. These tenets of Catholic life underpin our Parish mission and form the five pillars of our Pastoral Plan.
This Parish Plan sets forth our strategic direction and objectives for 2021-24. It renews the commitments made in the 2017-20 Plan to the five pillars and establishes new objectives under each to drive our Parish forward and meet the challenges of our time. Input from the members of St. John Neumann—gained through a Parish-wide survey, engagement sessions, and other dialogue—was integral to the molding of this new Plan. It helped us to identify areas where our Parish is vibrant and strong, as well as opportunities for us to more fully respond to Jesus’ summons of us into His harvest.
In addition to establishing objectives for 2021-24, this Plan also commends us to values that cross the five pillars of our Parish.
- Awareness of the ministries offered at St. John Neumann.
- Conscious engagement of parishioners, especially those who may feel overlooked.
- Appreciation for volunteers, as well as attention to recruiting and retaining these vital partners in ministry.
- Continuous development of parishioners to succeed into leadership roles.
- Sensitivity in all of our words and actions.
As we continue serving as apostles of Jesus under this new Parish Plan, may we be inspired by the teaching of St. Francis de Sales: “We must do all by love, and nothing by force.”
2021 Pastoral Plan Quarterly Update
In October of 2021, we published our new “2021-204 Pastoral Plan,” which laid out our goals for the next three years as a parish. This is the first of the updates to let you know how we are progressing toward our goals.
- Formation: Our formation goals are to “Welcome and reintegrate our parish family to our faith formation and worship spaces.”; “Connect Baptismal parents with other young families at the church.”; and to “support the ARISE Program in Spanish for our Hispanic members.” Sadly, COVID-19 and its variants have prevented us, thus far, from making progress on our first two goals. Still, we are thrilled to report that the ARISE Program in Spanish has successfully launched with over 70 participants taking part across 13 study groups.
- Stewardship: Our over-arching goal is to involve parishioners in all phases of parish life. We committed to: “Creating a central repository for St John Neumann volunteer opportunities where adults and families can sign up to “drop-in” and share their time and talent.”; “Showcasing our ministries and increasing the ease of locating ministries and other aspects of church life on the St John Neumann website.”; and by “Identifying planned capital projects and major expenses quarterly.” We are pleased to report that all activities are in the early planning stage, like the presentation format and the process for staff and ministries to identify “drop-in” opportunities. We will use recurring activities like pulling old worship aids and placing new aids in the pews to trial the process. Additionally, we are embracing Pope Francis’ seven-year Laudato Si’ Action Plans by developing a multiyear approach to increase sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology. Our “Care for our Common Home” ministry is currently working with the Diocese as they spend this first year charting the course for this seven-year plan.
- Service (Outreach): In the plan calls on us to “Integrate Catholic Social Teaching (CST) into the Liturgy through homilies and Prayers of the Faithful”; “Offer service opportunities that contain an education component on CST so that parishioners will better understand the connection between what they are doing and why.”; And to “Offer service opportunities that contain an education component on CST so that parishioners will better understand the connection between what they are doing and why.”We are meeting these goals through several means. To help us understand CST better and how we can integrate into our lives, Deacon Al Anderson, from St. Joseph’s parish, a traditionally African-American church, gave the homily at SJN on December 22, stressing racial justice and CST. Additionally, our Racial Justice Ministry suggested our “Prayers of the Faithful” that we read at Mass during November. We also celebrated “National Black Catholic Month” in November, profiling six Black Americans on the path to Sainthood. Finally, in November, we held a prayer service focused on racial justice issues.Additionally, we held a Thanksgiving Food Drive, which our Youth Group helped with the Thanksgiving Food Basket assembly. We told them why and for whom they were doing this. Lastly, our “Fair Trade Sale” over Thanksgiving weekend stressed that purchases supported artisans in other countries to ensure they received a fair wage. Due to COVID-19, we are still working on the third goal and expect to report progress in our next report.
- Community: To build a stronger parish community, we set out to “Establish a ‘Cultural Exchange’ Committee composed of parishioners from diverse cultures.”; Offer “micro-volunteering” opportunities for families, young adults, and those who may be “too busy” for a longer-term commitment.”; and “Continuing to offer Racial Justice Ministry programs, as well as the Just Faith modules that focus on issues of racial justice.”
Sadly, COVID-19 halted progress toward the first two goals. As soon as the pandemic permits us to move forward with those goals, we anticipate great things to report in our next quarter. Our Racial Justice Ministry helped us make quite a bit of progress on meeting our third goal. They held a youth panel discussion in November on Racial Justice issues; and organized and hosted a presentation in December on: “The Church & Indigenous People of Canada” – highlighting what happened to indigenous children enrolled in residential schools run by the Catholic Church in Canada.
As we continue to make progress to fulfilling the goals of our Pastoral Plan, we will continue to update you on our progress. We will issue another report at the end of March to tell you how the early months of 2022 went.