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The Parish as a House of Formation for Secular Apostles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 10:30
Good stuff is happening at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha parish in the Archdiocese of LA.

Bobby Vidal, who is on staff at BKT has attended both Making Disciples, Equipping Apostles in 2006 and the revised Making Disciples last August here in Colorado Springs and is getting ready to rumble. He has gotten permission to change his title from Director of Religious Education to Director of Evangelization and Lay Formation and has come up with an intriguing implementation plan:

Two especially interesting bits in light of our discussion last week of diocesan planning processes and discipleship:

"We must form a compelling vision for what real Christian community can do:

1. Draw the unbelieving and the unchurched
2. Foster life-long discipleship & spiritual growth
3. Discernment of gifts (charisms) and vocations
4. Equip and support extraordinary apostolates

We need to integrate this vision into the different pillars of the pastoral plan (i.e,, Liturgy, Education & Formation, etc.) (Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, #168)”

And this:

“Mapping out General Paradigm Shifts

From: How do I get more people to come to my ministry?
To: How can I and my minister get more people to experience an encounter with Jesus Christ?

From: How do I train those involved in my ministry to take on leadership (do what I do)
To: How do I and my ministry train those involved in my ministry to discern their individual call?

From: How do I get people who come to my ministry to commit (give more) of themselves to the ministry?
To: How do I and my ministry assist people in committing their life to Christ

From: How do I maintain the numbers of people in my ministry?
To: How do I nurture the discipleship (spiritual growth) of those involved in my ministry?”

I know that Bobby doesn’t mean that developing competence in a specific ministry is not valuable and important but he is asking first questions first: What is the end for which we are working?

His paradigm is mission not institutional maintenance: Service within as formation and support for a larger purpose shared by the whole Christian community: mission outward.

Most parish ministry is conducted by lay apostles, the vast majority of whom have vocations and apostolic calls that are to be lived outside the parish. Parishes are like seminaries in that they exist for the sanctification, formation, and governance of apostles whose primary mission is elsewhere. Parish ministry is formation for secular mission just as service within a seminary community prepares future priests to go out into their true mission field.

In light of this understanding, a ministry leader’s overall point of discernment becomes:

How does my specific parish ministry foster intentional discipleship, spiritual maturity, and prepare parishioners to discern and answer God’s call primarily (but not exclusively) outside ecclesial structures?

So this example regarding Religious Ed/Formation ministry from Bobby’s plan:
From: How can I get catechists to make good lesson plans?
To: How can I get the catechist to live and proclaim the kerygma and address the stages of pre-evangelization and initial proclamation of the gospel before initiatory catechesis is done?”

Good lesson plans are still critical. But we can’t determine what a good lesson plan or good ministry looks like until we are clear about the desired end result. When we are clear that our end is “evangelical” and “apostolic”, the criteria by which we judge the “goodness” of our lesson plans or our ministry structures changes dramatically.

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