Meeting Framework with the Entire Parish
1. After parish leaders have reviewed the report, they can determine the best way to communicate the results of the report to the wider parish. Two dimensions of this reporting can be: 1) sharing the initial pages of the parish report which summarize the parish’s discipleship activities in a general way; and 2) designing a process for a larger parish meeting. See the Meeting Agenda below for a suggested format for the larger parish meeting.
2. Set a meeting time and place, send out invitations, and prepare for hospitality.
1. Begin the meeting with the recitation of this prayer:
Lord, God, through baptism you have made us disciples, followers of Jesus who attend to his Word, pray and worship in his Spirit, experience love in his community of the Church, and are sent to serve by helping others as he did. Lead us, Father, more fully into your Kingdom, which Jesus came to begin and fulfill. Help us, through his Spirit, to adhere to him and bring his Good News to all we encounter. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
2. Continue the meeting with the pastor or his designate welcoming people and emphasizing these important points:
- The CDP is designed to help Catholics get a snapshot of the ways they actualize discipleship in their own lives.
- The CDP is not a test and should not be treated as such for any reason.
- There is no one way to be a disciple. Discipleship is as varied as the personalities of different people. The Holy Spirit works uniquely in the lives of believers. While values are clear and universal (e.g., it is better to pray than not to pray), how those values are embodied needs a wide berth for interpretation. The discipleship lived by a priest, for example, is different from that lived by a laborer, a teacher, a married person, or a lawyer.
- All tendencies to be judgmental should be carefully guarded. The purpose of the CDP is to allow people to see how they actually behave as disciples and to get insight into what this might be saying in their lives. As a parish leader, you can appreciate the individuality that each participant in your parish will show.
- The CDP will indicate in general how members of your parish express discipleship, those actions that are most frequent and those that are less frequent. This will allow the parish to come to some insight about itself and possibly set out directions for advancing one or another practice for growth among the parishioners or groups. As a result, the parish may decide to work through a particular resource or bring in someone with skills in a particular area for the benefit of the parish.
3. Review with the gathered parishioners the general results of the parish report and highlight findings that parish leaders found noteworthy.
4. Review the five expressions of Catholic discipleship that organize the data of the parish report:
- Encountering God
- Integrating Faith and Life
- Accompanying and Being Accompanied
- Serving Others
- Living as a Catholic
Use the parish report to give a summary of what is meant by each expression.
5. Break those attending into smaller groups of about 6-8 parishioners. Give to each group the results of one of the five expressions and ask them to discuss what the report says, coming up with one or two agreed-upon conclusions. If more than five groups are formed, then assign each additional group with one of the five expressions. Let this conversation go on for twenty minutes.
6. Have the CDP administrator or a facilitator gather the chief impressions of each of the smaller clusters of parishioners by inviting a spokesperson from each group to share their chief impressions briefly with the entire gathering.
7. Invite the same smaller groups to reassemble. Ask them, in view of the results of the report, to name and discuss one major direction our parish might take to increase Catholic discipleship. After ten minutes, have the CDP administrator or the facilitator invite a spokesperson from each group to share about the one major direction for the parish. The CDP administrator can place the ideas on a computer screen or on paper for all to see.
8. Invite the pastor or his designate to talk about next steps and give closing comments.
9. Ask all the participants to stand and recite (or sing) the Our Father and close with this, or a similar, prayer:
Father, through your Son Jesus you have brought salvation to the world and through the Holy Spirit have allowed us to share in these graces of redemption. Jesus, through the Spirit, has made us disciples who continue to learn how to follow in his steps. He also has made us missionaries, charged to bring Good News to the various circles of our daily lives. We pray that our common reflection on Catholic discipleship may strengthen us as followers of Jesus and that the Spirit may continue to guide us into the future. We make this prayer through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
10. Close the meeting with an affirmation of gratitude for the parishioners who came, an invitation to further hospitality, and a blessing.