Survey meant to help all parishes focus on archdiocese’s four priorities
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi has previously announced that the four priorities for the Archdiocese of Mobile are evangelization, strengthening the family, serving the needs of neighbors and encouraging vocations to priesthood and religious life.
Now, all parishes within the archdiocese will be taking a self-assessment to recognize their strengths and weaknesses regarding these priorities.
The four-part self-assessment was delivered earlier this month and mostly consisted of “Yes or No” or fill-in-the-blank questions. Pastors are encouraged to collaborate on the self-assessment with parish leaders.
The assessment isn’t meant to be critical of parishes, but rather an opportunity to discover what steps parishes are taking and can take in the future.
“The point of the self-assessment is for parishes to have conversations,” Archdiocese of Mobile Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life Pat Arensberg said. “It’s not meant to be an evaluation from outside or above, but rather for a pastor and those in leadership positions to discuss and plan for making sure they are (focusing on these four priorities).”
The survey also consists of questions that aren’t focused on “deep theological stuff,” he said.
“There are a bunch of very specific questions,” Arensberg said.
“For example, we’re going to have a conversation about evangelization — are your records up to date? Do you call those who aren’t coming to Mass? Do you know who’s not coming to Mass? Are there signs at the parish telling people where to go?”
The ultimate idea is for parishes to share what’s working for them.
Arensberg likened it to a recent presentation he gave regarding how parents could get their children to talk to them about difficult topics.
“One lady said ‘In my family, my daughter has a journal and it’s a journal for she and I. She knows I can look at it. It’s a place where she can write things, but that she doesn’t really want to bring up to me.’ Well, that is such a wonderful idea. Parishes can hear from other parishes what the best practices are.”
The self-assessments are due Feb. 28.
Following the self-assessments, the Office for Evangelization and Family Life will offer help if a parish has a specific need, but Arensberg hopes parishes will help each other.
“If every parish had these conversations and we didn’t even know about it, it would be a success,” Arensberg said. “The point is for the parishes to confront these four priorities and really look at how they can improve on evangelizing, promoting family, promoting vocations and caring for neighbor.”
And what might be discovered by the self-assessments?
“We have great theology, we have the truth, but we don’t realize how almost inaccessible it is,” Arensberg said. “There are a lot of obstacles to obtaining our goals. If you really engage the questions, you’ll find maybe we need our signs up, maybe we need more events, maybe we need door to door ministry, whatever it is.”
— The assessments are available for viewing at mobilefaithformation.org/pastors.