Exactly 10 years ago, the diocesan Synod solicited input from a wide
range of Catholics to frame the long-term goals of the Rochester
Diocese. Now, a strikingly similar quest is beginning at Henrietta’s
Good Shepherd Parish.
The initiative, known as “Got Dreams?” seeks to reach every
registered Good Shepherd parishioner — as well as Henrietta Catholics
with no parish affiliation — through an intense publicity campaign.
The parish is asking participants to complete a sentence that begins
“It would be a great blessing for Good Shepherd Parish if someday …
Responses will be collected at weekend Masses Oct. 4-5 (4:30 p.m. on
Saturday, and 9 and 11 a.m. on Sunday), and those who don’t attend Mass
also may submit “absentee ballots.” According to Father Doug Della
Pietra, pastor, participants can submit as many responses as they wish.
A list of the most popular dreams will be developed from all the
responses, and further narrowed by parish vote to three to five
Efforts to implement those dreams would begin in early 2004 and
extend for a three-year period. Similarly, the diocesan Synod saw the
emergence of five goals that were implemented over a five-year
A special emphasis is being made to reach people in the 1,800-family
parish who are registered but not active, as well as other Henrietta
residents who call themselves Catholic but don’t belong to a parish.
However, Father Della Pietra stated that “Got Dreams?” does not seek to
compete for members with such neighboring parishes as Guardian Angels
in Henrietta and St. Joseph’s in Rush, and that these parishes are
aware of Good Shepherd’s initiative.
Father Della Pietra said all ideas for “Got Dreams?” will be
considered fair game but “they need to be achievable, realistic.” He
added that any person suggesting a dream must also be willing to help
bring it to reality. Among the dreams Father Della Pietra has already
heard voiced by parish pastoral council members are: long-term
financial stability for the parish; steadily increasing attendance; and
greater participation by parishioners in fundraisers for Good Shepherd
Yet the second-year pastor can’t predict the response from people
who aren’t regularly involved in parish life. “To be honest with you,
that’s where my greatest learning is going to come in,” he said. “I or
the other parish staff can say what we think people need, and we can
create wonderful programs, and we can miss the boat badly. The
perception might not be reality.”
Father Della Pietra brought the idea for “Got Dreams?” to his parish
pastoral council this past spring after attending a pastor’s conference
in Florida and listening to Msgr. Doug Doussan of the Archdiocese of
New Orleans, who originated a successful model in his own parish.
Father Della Pietra said “Got Dreams?” is a good way to “identify
people’s real needs and hopes, and respond to them with wonderful
programs and ministries.”
Although he hopes the program will spread to other parts of the
Rochester Diocese, Father Della Pietra acknowledged that some parish
leaders may not the laity to be so deeply involved in decision making.
“We’re stepping out there to say this is your parish, not mine as a
pastor or staff,” he remarked. “There is a sense of letting go in this
Jo Coffey, a vice president of Good Shepherd’s parish pastoral
council, said the council is enthusiastic about “Got Dreams?” because
members believe Father Della Pietra is the kind of priest who will
follow it though. “When he says ‘It’s your church, not mine,’ he really
means it,” she commented.
Coffey is also looking forward to the project’s results. “I want to
see people feel welcomed and comfortable,” she said. “Once they do
that, then they’re going to want to take up the ball and run with