The Path For Renewal Six Guiding Principles for Mission
1: Follow Jesus "Follow me." With these words Jesus invites His first disciples to a new way of life and to faith. This same call echoes down throughout the centuries to all people. To follow Jesus changes everything.
2: Reclaim Sunday It's no secret that we live in a culture that is plagued by many problems and which stands in need of healing and renewal. Jesus, who "makes all things new," wants to do precisely that, but this renewal will only occur if and when we "reclaim Sunday."
3: Evangelize Others The Church exists in order to evangelize, that is, to share the life-changing good news of the Gospel with others. This evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.
4: Engage Youth In the Gospels Jesus says, "let the children come to me" (Matthew 19:14). We know that our children and our teens are the future of the Church.
5: Equip Leaders After Jesus called His disciples He spent the next 3 years forming them for mission. We are grateful to have many dedicated laypeople. And while it is true that anyone who has encountered the love of Christ should be actively engaged in the work of evangelization and disciple-making, formation and training help to make these efforts more fruitful and effective. In short, well-formed Christian leaders make our diocese stronger.
6: Serve Neighbors "Whatever you do for one of the least of these you do it for me." This is the teaching of Jesus, and it speaks to why the Catholic Church has always placed such a strong emphasis on and has such a longstanding history of practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Voices on Change
We recognize the many changes and transitions being asked of all people within our diocese over these next few months and years. Let us begin with honest reflections from our leaders, Bishop Donald J Hying as well as Fr. Brian Wilk, a faithful priest and member of the Into the Deep Committee.... Bishop Reflections on Priest Assignments
"As we announce the new priest assignments, in light of Into the Deep, it gives us pause to reflect on the gift of those priests in our lives who have powerfully impacted our practice of the faith. Through their preaching of the Gospel, their celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and their shepherding and pastoring, our priests bring us to Christ and to His salvation. For each of them, we are very grateful, and for good reason we often become attached to our particular priests.
These deep connections forged in parish life make it difficult both for the priests and the people when it comes time for a change. We find comfort and consolation in the gift of the priestly ministry we are blessed to receive, and the priest rightfully comes to know and love the people he serves so generously. The great asceticism of the parish priesthood is the difficult challenge of investing deeply in the life of a parish, coming to love the parishioners, serving them in many capacities, and then moving on to another assignment and starting all over again when that time comes in God’s providence.
Throughout my priesthood and episcopacy, I have moved many times, constantly having to adjust to new assignments, changes, and challenges. These shifts were not always easy, as I felt a deep investment in the people and places where I was serving. But in hindsight, I must say that every change of assignment held graces and blessings that I could not have anticipated at the time. Every place and position in which I served was the manifestation of God’s will for me in that moment. I firmly believe that.
In this current strategic realignment of our resources throughout the Diocese of Madison, I am asking all of our priests to take a new assignment, and the majority of them to physically move. While the extent of this change is significant, I am convinced that it will greatly benefit both our priests and our people in the long run. As our 102 parishes eventually merge into 30, our priests will be able to work together in teams instead of in isolation. Fewer pastors will mean that more of our priests and more of our priests’ time will be available for the pastoral work that they and our people seek. Our priests will find greater support, communion, and friendship with each other. Those who desire to live together in one rectory will be able to do so, sharing a common life together. In many ways, Into the Deep will help us to return to a more traditional function of parishes and parish priesthood.
Our people will benefit from the pastoral service of a team of priests, a unified and stronger staff, and greater resources to help our parishes flourish and do the work of the Gospel more effectively. As we enter into the fourth year of Go Make Disciples, our evangelizing initiative, we seek to continue the dynamism of this endeavor, equipping more and more faithful Catholics to love, invite, evangelize, and nurture faith in those around them. Into the Deep will help us to evangelize with greater fruitfulness and resourcefulness.
I readily recognize the pain that comes from change. I have experienced change in abundance in my own life and ministry. It is difficult to lose a beloved pastor, to readjust to a different Mass time, to expand the experience of a parish into a newly merged community, or for a priest to take on a new assignment. Nevertheless, these forthcoming changes will build a strong future for our diocese, as we acknowledge the profound challenges of our culture at present and seek to increase the fervor of our parishes as dynamic communions of missionary disciples. Instead of fruitlessly seeking to maintain all of the ecclesial structure we currently have, we are fully committed to the mission of the Church—the proclamation of the Gospel, the formation of missionary disciples and the salvation of souls. Aligning our structures will better facilitate this mission.
Please know that after these current reassignments, I also envision a stability of priests and parishes for a good number of years, as we fully implement our Into the Deep plan. In other words, once the dust settles with these upcoming changes, I do not anticipate many fundamental shifts in the immediate years ahead.
It is natural to be attached to our priests and to our parishes—they mediate Christ to us. We experience God through them. But, more importantly, the ultimate questions are these: are we fully attached to Jesus Christ Himself, to His saving Gospel, to the Church universal as the Mystical Body of Christ? The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we will be able to weather any change or challenge that comes our way, because we know that the Lord is indeed in the boat with us and that we can trust in the Lord with all our heart."
~Bishop Donald J. Hying
To learn more about Into the Deep go to www.intothedeepmadison.org
Managing Change From a Priest's Perspective "As we move into the implementation phase of Into the Deep, changes in our diocese are certainly becoming clearer. Changes to parishes, changes for parishioners, and changes for priests will soon take place. Change can be very hard. We are all used to the way things are done in our parishes. Relationships have developed between parishioners and priests. We operate at a certain comfort level. How can we deal with all of this?
While this is a time for everyone to come together and reimagine how we can Go Make Disciples in new and more effective ways, I’d like to consider how difficult these changes can be from the perspective of a priest. The challenges of relocating, of changes in living situations, and of working together with brother priests with whom we may not have worked with before can be a bit overwhelming. Combined with the task of bringing people and parishes together, this only adds to the challenges that we priests will face.
Having been a priest for 20 years now, I have moved several times. Through it all I have come to realize that how we approach these changes can go a long way in how we live them out. For all of us in the Diocese of Madison, if change is embraced from the standpoint of what we can become with God’s help rather than dwelling on where we are and may want to stay, change can be a powerful force in helping us to better live out our call to discipleship. As a priest and pastor, I have always viewed my assignments as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. We all need to open our hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirt and look to the future, to where God is leading us. Please keep all of us priests in your prayers. And please pray that the power of the Holy Spirit may be alive in our parishes and in your life. Having served on the Into the Deep Planning Committee, I truly believe that the Holy Spirit has led us to this point in time. May God help all of us to live out our baptismal calling and unite in Jesus Christ through this process.
As St. John Henry Newman once said, “To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.” May God bless all of us. Thank you for your continued support and please pray for us priests, for our parishes, and for the entire Diocese of Madison."