By Dc Tom Cuskey | Editor
What started as a group of diocesan department heads exploring ways to work better together has produced a new approach to form and engage people seeking formation in their faith.
“A Team Approach to Forming Disciples” is the result of a new level of collaboration among five diocesan departments. The five offices are also undergoing some internal changes to facilitate the new alliances.
“It started about four years ago,” Sister Laura Bufano stated. In her role as Vicar for Pastoral Leadership, she invited diocesan leadership staff to come together several times a year to see what collaborative graces and ideas might flow from such discussions.
“Where we find ourselves today is the result of work that began in the spring of 2018 focused on a specific task. What became the Collaborative Leadership Group, evolved, and yielded fruit,” she adds.
In his Pentecost letter, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia referenced the recent reshaping of the diocesan team. The offices engaged in this effort are:
Office of Pastoral Leadership will serve as the Bishop’s liaison to Parish Life Directors and Deacon Administrators.
Office of Adult and Ministerial Formation (formerly the Office of Formation for Ministry) will focus on formation for Adults and Lay Leadership, as well as incorporate the staff and programs from the Office of Evangelization.
Office of Family/Respect Life will focus on the areas of Marriage and Baptismal Preparation, Family Life, and Respect Life issues.
Office of Child and Family Catechesis (formerly the Office of Catechesis) will focus on Parents and Early Childhood, Grades K-6, and First Penance/First Eucharist.
Office of Adolescent Catechesis & Discipleship (formerly the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry) will focus on Grades 7-12, Confirmation, and Young Adult Formation.
For Bishop Lucia, this is also part of the effort of increasing enhanced communication and cooperation among clergy and parishes in the diocese. This goes hand in hand with the new structure of Vicariates and Vicars Forane, breaking diocesan regions down into smaller groups to facilitate cooperation.
One office that has been absorbed and shared in this is the Office of Evangelization. “Some may be wondering,” the Bishop wrote, “since in the post-Conciliar period after Vatican II ‘evangelization’ has been the catch phrase of what we are supposed to be about.” He added, “That is the point: Evangelization — the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ — is not the work of one office, but is the focal point of all ministry.”
Eileen Ziobrowski, the director of the Office of Adult and Ministerial Formation, stated that “these five offices will work collaboratively to realign all we do in this new approach to support specific formation needs of families, children, adolescents and adults and throughout the life cycle.” Part of the goal is to “take the focus off of programs and put it on people,” Ziobrowski added.
And while these changes may trace back more than four years, Sr. Bufano points out that the real work may be just beginning. “We regularly remind ourselves that designating a group as a ‘team,’ does not necessarily create a team,” she says. “It takes ongoing effort to ‘become’ a team.”