January 13, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In February of 2016 the Diocese of Sioux City announced a pastoral planning process called Ministry 2025. Since last February there has been a great deal of work to examine, discuss and offer feedback on the draft plan of Ministry 2025. This included regional deanery meetings, parish cluster meetings, and individual feedback. We have carefully read and studied all of this feedback over the subsequent months and this past fall, the Pastoral Planning Committee met and made changes to the draft plan based on the feedback that we received. Over the past several months the Priests Personnel Board has been meeting to look at priest personnel and how best to utilize them in Ministry 2025 to meet the goals that we have set forth for the future.
The reality of pastoral planning is complex. We have considered many different aspects as we look to the future, including United States census data, Mass counts, sacramental information, as well as listening to priests, deacons and laity from across the diocese. All of this is to make sure that we form the best pastoral plan for our diocese as we journey forward.
In this edition of The Catholic Globe you will find updated information regarding Ministry 2025. This includes updated maps that reflect changes to parish clusters based on the feedback that we have received. It is important to keep in mind that by 2025 we will have 31 priests available to serve as pastors in the Diocese of Sioux City. While some configurations of parish clusters have changed since the draft was released last year, as well as the status of some parishes, we have retained the proposal of 31 parish clusters based on the number of pastors we will have available.
Over the course of the next several months, each of the parish clusters will embark on cluster level pastoral planning. The goal of this next stage is for each parish cluster to formulate a pastoral plan at the local level. This will include a Mass schedule, goals for evangelization and catechesis and other aspects of parish life, while at the same time it will serve as an opportunity to look at the goals laid out in Ministry 2025 and incorporate them at the parish level. This process will be guided by facilitators who will be trained to help the parish cluster through the process.
Many of the cluster changes will be implemented this summer while other parish cluster changes will be phased in over the next several years based on priestly retirements and personnel assignments.
I am grateful for the work that has gone into this process, including the feedback we have received, the meetings that many of you attended, and most of all for your prayers as we go through this process as members of the Diocese of Sioux City. Several bishops and dioceses have had to make similar changes for pastoral planning.
This is different, it affects each one of us very personally. This process has been painful for me as well. I feel a deep sense of sadness and grief, just as many of you do. This will continue into the future. I appreciate more than you know, the prayerful support of so many of you, laity, deacons and especially my brother priests. The prospect of change is always painful. Let us trust that God is with us and ask for the intercession of our patrons, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph.
As we move forward to the next phase of Ministry 2025, it is my hope that all of us will continue to work together to make our parish clusters vital and effective places that make Jesus Christ present in the world.
Your Brother in Christ,
R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City