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The Missionary Option

Dear Friends,

Winston Churchill once said, “There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away.” I certainly don’t want to hold out false hopes to you, but I also don’t want us to despair. God has something new in mind for our parishes, but the something new will come with a death.

The Missionary Option

I echo Pope Francis’ dream for the church. "I dream of a 'missionary option,' " Francis writes, "that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world, rather than for her self-preservation."

As we begin our rebirth to become missionary church of two parishes, we want to preserve that which is best about us and put to death that which is getting in the way of reaching more people for Jesus Christ. God cares deeply about the lost and so will we. This is what it means to embrace the “missionary option.”

The Pain of Change

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, says there are steps any organization needs to take in order to experience renewal, to make the leap from okay to excellent. The first step is getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. The second step is to “confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith.” My main emphasis these first weeks has been to discover the strengths and passions of our staff, clergy, and parish leaders to ensure we have the right people and get them in the right seats. While I’m doing that, I’m also listening to how they define our current reality. This helps me to avoid the temptation of assuming things (because you know what happens when you assume). Gathering this anecdotal data as well as analyzing the empirical allows me the opportunity to invite all of us to confront the brutal facts together. I wholeheartedly believe that the only way transformation will occur in our parishes is when the pain of the brutal facts hurts more than the pain of change.  

Confronting the Brutal - The Past 20 Years based on 2018 Data

 

ArchOmaha

SJA

STM

Total Members

+10%

-26%

-22%

Mass Attendance

-26%

-57%

-66%

Baptisms

-30%

-84%

-48%

Weddings

-42%

-77%

-85%

Let’s be clear, the entire church in the western world has seen dramatic declines in the last several decades and our own archdiocese is no stranger to these declines either. However, due to the demographic changes in our neighborhoods, we are feeling the declines more intensely. Jesus said the harvest is abundant and I believe Him, and I believe our parishes are ripe for new life and a new evangelization!

In Christ,

Fr. Jeff Lorig

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