Approximately 300 people attended a recent series of focus-group sessions, which served to kick off the Diocese of Rochester’s new strategic-planning process. The process is intended to gain a better understanding of the diocese’s strengths and weaknesses, and learn what it needs to do in order to become “a more vibrant community of disciples of Jesus Christ,” according to Bill Pickett, director of the diocesan Office of Pastoral Planning.
“The goal is to create, sustain and extend the vitality and vibrancy of the diocesan church,” he said. This process will help the diocese develop a strategic plan, just as Pastoral Planning for the New Millennium has helped individual parishes develop plans, he added.
In order to achieve that goal, the diocese is working closely with The Reid Group, an organization that has helped several Catholic dioceses, including those of Reno and Green Bay, with similar strategic-planning processes. The group was founded in 1997 in Bellevue, Wash., by John and Tom Reid, who both have master’s of divinity degrees and have worked in diocesan and parish ministries around the country, Pickett said.
Members of The Reid Group facilitated the Jan. 18 focus-group sessions, during which participants were asked to respond to a series of open-ended questions. These questions were intended to show what participants feel the diocese is and is not doing well; how the reorganization of parishes is going; and what the relationship between parishes and the diocesan Pastoral Center is like, Pickett said. Participants were also given time to bring up their own concerns. The Reid Group is currently preparing a report summarizing findings from these sessions, Pickett said. The report will be posted on the diocesan Web site, www.dor.org, as soon the diocese receives it.
Using that report, members of The Reid Group will then work with diocesan officials to identify key strategic objectives before drafting a five-year plan. They will then begin a series of consultations with diocesan directors and the diocesan Priests’ Council and Stewardship Council as they continue to revise and fine-tune the plan.
In early April, the diocesan Pastoral Planning Council will meet to review and respond to the draft of the plan, and the final draft will be presented in June, Pickett said. According to a preliminary time line, final approval is expected in September, and Bishop Matthew H. Clark will announce the plan in October. The diocese expects to begin implementing the plan in 2006, Pickett said.
He said that as the plan goes through the revision process, each draft will be posted on the diocesan Web site under the pastoral planning tab, adding that parishioners will be invited to view the drafts and comment on them through an input form provided on the site.
It is fairly common for a diocese, or any organization, to go through this type of process when trying to determine what key issues need to be addressed, Pickett said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bishop Matthew H. Clark also addresses the strategic-planning process on page A2 of this issue in his “Along the Way” column.