Pittsburgh Catholic: Survey Explores Disciple Making

June 24, 2014

The Pittsburgh Catholic
By: John Franko

Meetings will look at best Evangelization practices in parishes

The Catholic Leadership Institute will present “Keep Calm and Make Disciples” — based on its national study of disciple making — on Monday, June 2, from 2-3:30 p.m. and 7-8:30 p.m. at the Cardinals’ Great Hall at St. Paul Seminary, 2900 Noblestown Road in Crafton.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh was one of three invited to participate in CLI’s “The Disciple Maker Index: Measuring Spiritual Growth and Parish Engagement Among Disciples,” a pilot program for the new evangelization.

Participating from the diocese were St. Alexis, Wexford; St. Bernard, Mount Lebanon; Mary, Mother of Hope, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Vitus and St. Joseph the Worker in New Castle; SS. John and Paul, Franklin Park/Marshall Township; St. Paul, St. Michael the Archangel and St. Peter in Butler; and North American Martyrs, Monroeville/Pitcairn.

The survey identified areas of strength and weakness of the parishes and how they strive to form faithful disciples. Results were analyzed and given back to the parishes.

“As the church evangelizing we seek to be a friend, be a friend of Jesus and make friends for Jesus,” said Helene Paharik, associate general secretary and director of the Department for Human Dignity. “Gaining insight to the experiences that encourage parishioners to invite friends and family to their parish helps us know how to make friends for Jesus.”

She pointed out that the diocese wanted all parishes to benefit from the study, and so CLI was asked to present its findings. All are welcome to the presentation, Paharik said. Father David Bonnar, pastor of St. Bernard, noted that the survey was helpful and encouraging to his parish’s committee on the new evangelization. His people came away from the survey with a sense of energy and enthusiasm, and with a greater awareness of what needs they have to address. “It was very powerful and poignant,” he said. “There are many more lessons to be shared and learned.”

Paharik cited statistics that show 6.4 percent of Catholics contribute 80 percent of volunteer hours at parishes and 6.8 percent of Catholics contribute 80 percent of financial resources. There is an 84 percent overlap of the two groups. “These folks are intentional disciples,” she said.

She added that they are more often than not disciple makers who invite and support other Catholics to live and know their faith.

Paharik also noted Bishop David Zubik’s pastoral letter, “The Church Evangelizing!,” in which he reminded the faithful that we are all called to be evangelizers. The bishop listed the eight building blocks to be an evangelizer, she said, and the CLI index serves as a gauge to see how local Catholics are responding.

“For us to be the Church Alive, we need to be the church evangelizing,” she said.

The Catholic Leadership Institute provides bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople with pastoral leadership formation and consulting services to strengthen their competency in ministry.

It presents the Good Leaders, Good Shepherds program, which helps priests face the challenges of ministry, and the Tending the Talents program for laypeople who work with the graduates of Good Leaders, Good Shepherds.

Read the full article here.

The Church Evangelizing Pastoral Letter is available on your iPad or iPhone. You can download the app here.