In “A New Model for Catholic Parishes” at First Things, William Simon talks about the “Parish Catalyst” project.
Many Catholic parishes are in effect becoming “mega-churches,” what with a growing flock and declining numbers of priests.
In 1985, over 55,000 priests served a Catholic population of nearly 55,000,000. Today, fewer than 40,000 priests serve over 65,000,000 Catholics. …T he U.S. Catholic population, which is projected to grow to nearly 80,000,000 by 2038, will be served by only 25,000 priests. Over a fifty year period, the American Catholic Church will see a 50 percent increase in members and a 60 percent decline in the number of priests to serve them.
But in these settings it can be difficult to attend to the spiritual needs of worshippers and give them a sense of Christian community. And even those who do attend seem not to have a strong sense of discipleship and evangelization. Much of the work of the parish is done by a rather small group of volunteers.
As Simon reports,
Parish Catalyst is indebted to Leadership Network, an organization that has provided innovative support to Protestant Evangelical churches in the U.S. for over thirty years. … Peter Drucker and Bob Buford saw parallels between the leadership needs of the business world and the leadership needs of the church world. On numerous occasions he and his staff have trained, mentored, and supported the efforts of Parish Catalyst to translate their methodology to a Catholic environment.
Here is a brief description of part of the program:
Parish Catalyst recently invited twelve pastors and members of their pastoral team to form a Parish Catalyst Community around the topic of Dynamic Discipleship. A Parish Catalyst Community meets four times over a two year period. Each team will develop staff and parish goals. They will be pushed to dream bigger and to achieve beyond their immediate expectations. Their success will be measured and applauded by their peers and by the Parish Catalyst facilitation team.
This will be worth watching. Catholics need more initiatives like this.