Progress and Updates
Recently, several parishioners have asked about the status of last year’s parish survey and parish-wide meetings. We were happy to receive the inquiries because this shows there is on-going interest; therefore, the Council decided to provide an update of the past year’s accomplishments.
The Council used the survey and parish-wide meeting data to formulate three goals that it decided, with Father Murphy’s support, represented the most pressing challenges in terms of carrying out the parish’s mission and bringing the vision to life. (The mission and vision can be seen on the parish website www.holyspiritme.org under the Pastoral Council tab.) The three goals are:
- Communication: Development of a multi-modal communications plan that will keep parishioners informed, attract new believers to Jesus Christ and His church, and energize existing parishioners.
- New Parishioners: Development of a process to register and welcome new parishioners, solicit their involvement, and educate about opportunities.
- Young Adult Parishioners: Development of a plan to understand the current environment and then educate, communicate with, and involve young adults in parish life, drawing them closer to Jesus Christ.
Since improved communications seemed vital to making strides in the attainment of the two other goals, New Parishioners and Young Adults, our primary focus over the past year has been on the first goal, Communication, as demonstrated in the following accomplishments:
- Established a parish Facebook page with links to the parish website, to the Diocese, and to other resources. The page has been “liked” by 186 parishioners who would then see the updates in their own Facebook newsfeed. (https://www.facebook.com/holyspiritmaine.)
- Through the generous work of a parishioner volunteer, updated the parish website to serve parishioners and evangelize visitors, and created a new logo. Updating all the pages on the site is in progress. (www.holyspiritme.org)
- With the assistance of the Diocesan Director of Communications, developed an avenue for "free media" coverage of Holy Spirit Parish events, good works, and special liturgies.
- Published the first "Annual Stewardship Report" to provide the demographic, financial, ministry, and volunteer information that had been requested by parishioners through the parish survey.
- Identified some near term changes that could be made to the weekly bulletin, again in response to some of the survey feedback from parishioners.
- Established a "Since You Asked" section in the bulletin where Fr. Murphy or staff or council members respond to questions that had been raised through the parish survey and parish-wide meetings. There have been six "Since You Asked" bulletin segments over the last eight months, and there are more to come. These will also be added to our webpage.
- Gathered e-mail addresses from parishioners to help establish an additional method of communication. Because of a Diocesan-wide change in the church management system that is used to maintain parishioner records, the regular use of e-mail communication is not yet being fully utilized.
- With the help of parishioner-volunteer, gathered "talent and skills" information from parishioners into a spreadsheet with the intent of building this into our church management database; however, again because of the Diocesan wide change in system, the integration of this data is in progress. In many cases, the names and contact information of people who indicated a desire to serve (e.g., Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Greeters, Catechists, music ministry, etc.) were passed on to the appropriate staff member or parishioner-leader.
- Made adjustments to the sound system at St. Martha's to ensure that all can hear the liturgy.
- Developed a job description for a part-time Communications Coordinator to coordinate information across print and online media. (For future consideration.)
Regarding the Council’s second goal, our new parishioners may have already experienced changes made to the welcome process via a new welcome letter and a follow-up telephone call from Fr. Murphy. In addition, updated procedures have been created to follow up, educate, and encourage new parishioners to become fully integrated into and involved in the parish.
Finally, to work toward progress on our third goal, Fr. Murphy has held several “listening sessions” with young adults, both with and without children, and a list of focus areas has been proposed to enhance parish life for the young adult community.
In addition to work toward the accomplishment of goals, the Council has, in response to parishioner concerns, developed and implemented guidelines for parish fundraising. The Council also has discussed stewardship at meetings throughout the spring, recommended online giving (to replace envelopes for those interested in doing so, which will also begin soon; made Year of Mercy recommendations, and included in the each week’s bulletin simple recommendations for evangelization that two parishioner-volunteers have assembled.
As you have heard, Bishop Deeley has assigned a new pastor to Holy Spirit Parish effective July 1st at which time Fr. Murphy will depart for his new parish assignment. The Holy Spirit Pastoral Council by-laws, which adhere to the Diocesan Policies and Norms for Pastoral Councils, stipulate that the council serves in an advisory capacity to the pastor and upon a change in pastors the existing council is disbanded. The new pastor has up to one year to form his council. He could continue the existing council or form a new one. The present council will certainly brief him on existing projects and offer any help he requires, supporting whatever path he chooses to take. If you are interested in the work of the Pastoral Council, you may want to prayerfully consider participation in the new council when it is formed.
Thank you for your interest and support. Minutes of Pastoral Council meetings can be found on the website.