By Lesa Tines
LINCOLN (SNR) - In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
St. Michael Parish in Lincoln took a big step toward this goal by attending the Amazing Parish Conference in Denver April 21 and 22.
Several nationally-known speakers highlighted the two-day event, including Jeff Cavins, FOCUS Ministry’s founder; Curtis Martin, team development leader; Patrick Lencioni and Grammy-nominated recording artist Matt Maher. Father Kenneth Borowiak, pastor of St. Michael Parish, assistant pastor Father Eric Clark and three members of the leadership team at St. Michael: Joy Martin, Katie Kruger and Patty Marimie, along with diocesan director of religious education Father Andrew Heaslip, and members of the Chancery, took part in several workshops focused on the theme, “Seven Traits of an Amazing Parish.”
The seven traits discussed during the conference were reliance on prayer, a real leadership team, a clear vision and plan, “The Sunday experience,” compelling formation, small group discipleship and missionary zeal.
Each “Amazing Parish Trait” was explained during a presentation where participants were given instructions and a clear vision and plan to make their parish more amazing. The instructors presented important and challenging ideas designed to help each leadership team succeed.
According to Father Borowiak, the reliance on prayer is a foundational need in every Catholic parish. He said prayer should direct every decision made within the Church.
From there, he continued, the leadership team, working with the pastor, creates a vision for their parish and a plan to put it into action. This allows the team to implement strategies which will enhance the worship experience, encourage evangelization and make catechesis available to all parishioners.
After the conference, the team leaders from St. Michael Parish created an initial plan for their parish.
First, Father Borowiak said, they plan to make “The Sunday Experience” the most important element in the parishioners’ lives.
“From the time that our parishioners enter our worship space until the time that Mass is concluded,” he said, “we have about 45 minutes to make that the most inspiring, engaging worship experience that we can.
“Therefore, our music program, homilies, and experience of welcoming and hospitality, and the opportunity to worship God in a truly sacred and engaging experience must be our first and foremost priority for our people,” Father Borowiak added.
Secondly, the team will continue to offer catechetical and formation programs in the parish. This will help parishioners know the faith and give them the ability to live out that faith to the fullest.
Finally, Father Borowiak shared the desire of St. Michael Parish to take part in the “Jubilee Year of Mercy” introduced by Pope Francis April 11. In his letter, the pope asked for “missionaries of mercy” to share God’s mercy throughout the world. Father Borowiak said St. Michael Parish hopes to work with the Marian Sisters to introduce Jesus Christ to every household within the parish boundaries. The group plans to knock on every door, whether a member of the parish or not.
“We, as disciples of Jesus, must heed His challenge of making disciples of all nations in a missionary zeal that will reach out to all people,” Father Borowiak said.
The conference held in Denver April 21 and 22 was the third Amazing Parish Conference. Participants came from 98 parishes as well as 10 non-parish Church organizations.
“We are seeing a tremendous hunger among pastors and parish leaders from across the United States.” said author Pat Lencioni, who helped organize the conference. He also presented one of the keynote addresses. “Our goal is to build a national movement so that every parish that wants to be amazing will know there is a community of other parishes who want the same thing.”
A fourth conference is planned for Aug. 11-12 in Denver. Father Borowiak encourages other parishes to attend.
“It was an incredible opportunity to experience a fast-growing movement of Catholic parishes which want to provide amazing ministry to those whom they serve,” he said.
For more information about the Amazing Parish ministry visit www.amazingparishconference.org.