The Mission Alignment Process is a Spirit-driven journey towards a stronger Diocese. As Catholics, we share centuries of tradition in prayer, celebration, ritual, and our beloved Catholic teachings. And as the needs and demographics of our diocese change, we look to evangelize and deepen our mission work. As Diocesan leaders, we are also charged with the stewardship and review of how our financial realities align with the current needs of our ministries, priests, religious, and parishioners.
OCTOBER 7, 2021
A LETTER FROM FR. MARK ON THE MISSION ALIGNMENT PROCESS
You can ask any Catholic in the world what Great Commandment Jesus gave us and almost everyone will be able to tell you “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 36). However, if you ask Catholics what Great Commission Jesus gave us, you are likely to get a blank stare. Before Jesus ascended, he commissioned us to “…go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Although we are often not attentive to it, this is why the church exists, and has always been the work of the church and her members. While we may fulfill many roles in the world and our community, our primary role and mission is to bring people to encounter Jesus. The word we use for this is “evangelization.”
This idea is not new to the Church. In 1975 Blessed Pope Paul VI proclaimed “the church exists to evangelize” and he described evangelization as the church’s deepest identity and mission.
Pope St. John Paul II called for a “new evangelization.” He reaffirmed our mission to proclaim the Gospel and called us to do so with new “ardor, methods and expression.” This mission is not only to those who have never heard the Gospel, but also to those whose faith has grown cold as well as to nations where the faith was once strong but has faded.
Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that evangelization is not a program but rather an opening of the heart. It involves our being agents of the Holy Spirit in helping people have a profound experience of Jesus and his love. This love will open them to the Word of God, the sacraments, to virtuous living and ultimately to our common vocation to holiness.
Evangelization is also close to the heart of Pope Francis. In “The Joy of the Gospel”, the Holy Father speaks of the urgency of our mission and calls the entire church to a “missionary conversion.” He challenges bishops and priests to take the lead in creating diocese and parishes that are alive, on fire with the mission of spreading the Gospel.
Chances are, what the Popes are speaking about is something very different than what most of us have experienced in our faith and in the Church. Our experience tends to be half empty churches, a decline in sacramental practice, and priests stretched to the limits. Imagine for a moment full churches, joyful and meaningful liturgies, and priests available to be present to their communities. How do we get there? How do we create a diocese and a parish that is alive, on fire with the mission of spreading the Gospel? How do we live our deepest identity and mission? How do we move from being a Church that struggles to maintain itself and the status quo, to being a Church alive and on mission?
There is no easy answer. But in every age the Spirit guides the Church to renew herself as she seeks to fulfill the Great Commission. The Diocese of Oakland will be looking to the Spirit in the months ahead as we set about the work of “creating dioceses and parishes that are alive, on fire with the mission of the Gospel.”
Last April, our Bishop announced the Diocese of Oakland would begin “The Mission Alignment Process” or “MAP.” This process will impact the future of our Diocese as a whole, and every parish within the Diocese. MAP is a comprehensive process of pastoral planning, that will study every aspect of the diocese and parishes to determine how to best array our resources – human, physical, and financial – to spread the Gospel far and wide and make us more effective and faithful to the Great Commission.
In the next few weeks, every parishioner will be asked to participate in MAP by completing a 15-minute survey. Your input through the survey will provide critical information to both diocesan and parish leadership as they set a direction for the church going forward.
This very important survey, called the “Disciple Maker Index” (DMI), will go live online beginning October 14. The survey was developed by the Catholic Leadership Institute (located in Pennsylvania) and has been used by dioceses across the country. Indeed, dioceses across the country have already, currently are, or are planning processes like MAP for themselves. You can learn more about the Catholic Leadership Institute here https://www.catholicleaders.org/
We will send the link to the survey through Flocknote like this to every member of our community whose email address we have. We will also have paper copies of the survey available in the church for those who are more comfortable taking the survey on paper. All your answers, and those of parishioners throughout the diocese, will be kept anonymous and are collated by the Catholic Leadership Institute. So important is this work that Mary Fair, a member of the Diocesan MAP Commission, was our guest on the October 6, 2021 episode of “In Lieu of the Pew”. Mary explained the MAP process, what it involves, and how you can help shape the future of our Diocese and parish. I invite you to view the episode here https://youtu.be/00aI7k7j8pc and learn more about MAP. You can also listen to a podcast of the episode here: https://catholicsofpleasanton.libsyn.com/in-lieu-of-the...
You can also learn more about MAP by reading the articles in the September and October issues of The Catholic Voice:
You can also view a video about MAP here:
Personally, I am very excited by the potential MAP holds for us as a diocese and a parish. I am eager to receive the feedback the survey will provide about the Catholic Community of Pleasanton. I will share the results with you. The staff and pastoral council will use the information we get to help shape future direction for our community. Let us keep each other, our diocese, and our parish in prayer during these exciting days ahead.
- Fr. Mark
VIDEOS & LINKS
PAPER VERSION OF THE SURVEY
If you prefer, you can download a paper version of the survey. Once you complete it, please drop it off at the rectory office through the mail slot.
MISSION ALIGNMENT PROCESS PRAYER
Dear Father in heaven, look kindly upon the Diocese of Oakland as we take stock of the many gifts you have given us.
Send your Holy Spirit to inspire and guide us so that our efforts to proclaim the saving gospel our Lord Jesus Christ more effectively may bear tremendous fruit.
May we, as your people, courageously proceed on this path of self-reflection and renewal.
In the end, with your divine assistance, we know that we cannot fail.
Holy Mary, Queen of the World and St. Francis de Sales, co-patrons of our Diocese, pray for us!
The Catholic Community of Pleasanton
St. Augustine Church
3999 Bernal Avenue
Pleasanton, CA 94566
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church
4001 Stoneridge Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Faith Formation Office
3999 Bernal Avenue
Pleasanton, CA 94566
"To know Christ better,
live as He calls us to live,
and make Him better known."
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