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A New Community, A New Journey

January 15, 2016

Last week, Parish Catalyst welcomed 12 Catholic pastors and their teams from across the country as they gathered for the first of four sessions in a brand new Learning Community focused on Dynamic Discipleship. There was excitement in the air as parish teams mingled with others from different regions of the country. The Community was represented by Alabama, Arizona, Northern and Southern California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Parish teams heard from great speakers, such as Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Tim Liston, Director of Advancement at Old St. Patrick’s in Chicago. Pastor Rick shared his thoughts on effective leadership and provided some insight on how Saddleback Church helps form disciples, specifically through small groups. Tim Liston gave examples of how Old St. Pat’s creates a warm and welcoming environment for all believers and how they effectively run a large parish in an urban area.

Much was gained from the guest speakers; however, the pastors were all in agreement about where they found the most value—sharing ideas with other parishes. At Parish Catalyst, we encourage parishes to “steal” from one another, i.e. to learn and implement programs from different parishes. This is the real magic of the process. After sharing the newly developed six-month plans for their parishes, teams ask for advice from one another on how to improve their plans. It is at this point that many ideas are adopted and adapted for their respective parishes. Having a community with geographical variation helps to broaden the scope of these ideas. Many teams expressed how they hope to try out ideas from a different parish in another state.

What is the meaning of discipleship and how can parishes help form church members into disciples? This is a daunting question indeed, but last week these 12 pastors and their teams set out to tackle this question for the sake of their parish. In six months, they will revisit this question, review their progress, and make plans for the next 6 months. Until then, they have much work to do as they implement the detailed plans they created at this event. At this first session, much was learned, relationships were formed, and a new Learning Community started an exciting journey together. Please pray for our participants and all parishes across the country!

By: Joseph Dao, Program Coordinator, Parish Catalyst 

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