We are the One in Christ (OiC) Area Catholic Community. Trinity Sunday, celebrating the one God in three Persons, is a fitting time to think about being one in Christ while each being individual parishes. In a way, something like God – Father, Son, and Spirit – we share a common life without losing our own identity.
About 30 months ago, the Pastoral Plan for OiC was submitted to the Diocese, and feedback from the Planning Office was incorporated into a slight revision. This plan can be seen, along with the plans of the other 28 ACCs in the Diocese, at https://stcdio.org/planning/area-catholiccommunity/area-catholic-communities-acc-individual-plansgoals/ So there it is on paper (or in pixels). The original ACC goals focused on Stewardship, Young Adults, RCIA and Evangelization, and creating a shared Mass schedule. What ever became of that vision?
In short: a lot. Even despite COVID just as we were beginning implementation, some goals have been accomplished, others adjusted, and others augmented to meet the changing needs and deeper insights we have gained by collaboration and listening to one another. Each of the following has a long and rich story, but space requires mere mention of some of the outcomes from many hours of conversation, research, and dedication. This list is by no means exhaustive and it is in no particular order.
Here’s some of what our ACC has meant:
- a shared Mass schedule, with a rotation of celebrants (starting with three, now up to six priests who regularly lead worship) and deacons. People have expressed gratitude for the variety of homily perspectives and leadership styles
- shared RCIA and Baptism preparation; a shared Confirmation program implemented in each parish; joint Vacation Bible School; shared mission trips
- hiring Jason Prigge to develop and lead a shared Young Adult ministry program, and all the events and relationships that have already come from that initiative, with much more in store
- a shared logo, joint bulletin and website, and discussion about other platforms for improved communications
- common plans for possible situations of the unforeseen, last-minute absence of a priest for weekend Masses
- some shared liturgies like the Easter Vigil and holy days
- our Meet, Connect, and Grow event last September for formation in evangelization and stewardship, as well as building relationships across our parishes; education on stewardship in our bulletins and with shared stories of witness to the Gospel
- the original ACC Planning Council developed into the ACC Pastoral Council to oversee the creation and implementation of visionary goals, and each retains its parish Pastoral and Finance Councils internally; the overlap of the ACC Evangelization and Stewardship Committees resulted in joining into a new Discipleship Committee (see below)
- participation from people of all four parishes on committees dedicated to these goals – those many conversations themselves are the fruit of intentional collaboration that would not have happened just a few years ago
What comes next? We are working on:
- better communication – tools and messaging – both within and across parishes
- improved connection with the Pastoral Councils and existing groups, committees, and organizations within each parish
- broadening the scope of the Young Adult program to reach younger families
- enriching devotional and prayer opportunities
in and among the parishes, especially as we take part in the national Eucharistic Revival
- a very ambitious Discipleship Goal, to be developed over three years: “increase outreach efforts and strengthen existing relationships within the community.” To summarize these: (1) better engage those within our community of faith; (2) learn, share, and practice witnessing to our personal faith stories; (3) engage with other churches in our area as good neighbors and explore possible shared community projects; (4) expand formation and practice of evangelization and stewardship; (5) increase a sense of belonging and meaningful commitment for all parishioners that goes beyond simple membership.
That last one is key to the rest, and our central goal, that each of us in our own circumstances would grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Not everyone may be involved in leadership councils or has the time to offer to volunteering. But our goal for each person in our ACC is the same: to increase a sense of belonging and meaningful commitment for all parishioners that goes beyond simple membership. We want to hear from you what that might mean to you and your household. Pray for one another, that we may truly live in the image of God: sharing one life in grace, that each of us may truly become the person God intends us to be.