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Mentoring New Leaders for Social Ministry, Part III

June 6, 2022

From the Office for Social Ministry

As we journey together to develop and foster discipleship and spiritual growth in our Diocese, we continue our series of tips and suggestions from William E. Simon’s book: GREAT CATHOLIC PARISHES. Thriving parishes are typically characterized by individuals who are enthusiastic about deepening their faith, becoming closer to Jesus, and drawing others to Christ.  Does this enthusiasm describe your parish? 

According to Simon, “More pastors are realizing that discipleship isn’t a goal to achieve but rather a journey in faith.”  He goes on to explain that parishes are made up of two distinct groups:

Group 1        Those who do not show outward interest in spiritual growth opportunities.

Group 2        Those who are interested in further developing their spirituality and already actively engaged in ministry. 

Individuals in Group 1 need relevant, entry-level spiritual development opportunities while those in Group 2 need ongoing spiritual development opportunities which may look different from opportunities designed for newly engaged individuals in Group 1.

Our diocesan pastoral plan, Stewards of the Gospel, reminds us that “Faith formation is a life-long process of growth in prayer, relationship with the Lord, and knowledge of his teachings as articulated by the Church Jesus founded.”  To develop a heart for Jesus we must look to proven, practical ways for making communities one in prayer, and in growing and working together.  To plan for discipleship, parish leaders should consider the following:

  • Acknowledge spiritual maturity as a goal to pursue
  • Allocate resources to support spiritual growth initiatives
  • Implement strategies and campaigns that respond to current needs of parishioners
  • Repeat with new strategies and campaigns

Prayer energizes our heart through the power of the Spirit.  Through prayer, we come to the very presence of God.  By creating a culture of prayer in our faith community, we find ourselves more engaged in the Sunday experience, arriving early and staying late to participate in conversations after Mass.  In the end, discipleship flourishes where people experience a deep sense of belonging and desire to spiritually nurture and grow.  For more context on this, check out this EWTN interview with William E. Simon, author of "Great Catholic Parishes" on Youtube.