We, the pastors and pastoral leaders of the Catholic Church in Waterloo, Iowa, believe that we must proactively plan our ministries for the next decade and beyond in order more faithfully to serve God’s people by advancing the mission of the Church more effectively. We believe that Church to be a single people of all races, ages, and social conditions gathered around our bishop to proclaim and celebrate in Word and Sacrament the new life we have in Christ Jesus.
We believe that we are confronted by a unique opportunity, even as we wrestle with practical questions of membership and resources, to re-envision ministries and services, while remaining faithful to the spirit and the firm teaching of the Second Vatican Council. We are confident that difficulties can become stepping-stones to renewal through God’s grace and our own fidelity, enabling us to creatively transcend apparent negatives such as shrinking numbers and ideological divisions.
The renewal we envision must be solidly based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council about the nature of the Church as People of God and Body of Christ, responding to the universal call to holiness, gathering around the table of the Lord, and journeying together to the new and eternal Jerusalem. Within that People, the lay faithful are called primarily to mission in the world of family, work and community.
At the same time, depending upon talents, gifts, and opportunity,some have a special call to collaborate in ecclesial ministries. We believe, therefore, that we must continue to enlarge the empowerment of the laity that has taken place since the Council. We must call for lay people to make generous use of their gifts and talents in the service of the church and world. To this end, we acknowledge the need to devote more resources to the education and formation of laity, both professional and volunteer.
In planning our ministries we know that we must carefully discern the needs of our times and the characteristics of the larger culture so that in reaching out to members and non-members alike we can be more effective in the work of evangelization. We believe that with God’s help we can begin to heal the wounds inflicted on persons and on the church itself by the sins and failures of our people and ministers, realizing that in part these failures underlie the alienation of many.
At the same time, we believe that our culture is often opposed or apathetic to the gospel message we proclaim. Those attitudes even find their way into our own membership. In spite of all this, we carry in our hearts the hope and confidence given to us by the resurrection of the Lord. We believe that we can meet these challenges from within by promoting greater faithfulness.
On the strength of that faithfulness, we can engage our contemporary culture and help to transform it, reaching out to all in prophetic service. As we do so, we also recognize the many positive factors present in our changing society. Among these are: increasing ethnic diversity, a hunger and thirst for the spiritual, and a growing recognition of the need for unity and inclusion.
We recognize that certain factors affecting the very mission of the church today are in tension with one another. This calls for balance in our planning so that these tensions may not be divisive but rather sources of creativity.
We must balance...
...the need to respond to the priest-shortage with the need to avoid
succumbing to a crisis mentality;
...the need for professional staffs with the need to spread ministries
among the whole people;
...the need to focus on the spiritual with the need to attend responsibly
to the requirements of structure and finances;
...the need to serve the “faithful remnant” with the need to reach out
generously to those whose participation may, at a given time, be
...the need to support Catholic schools with the need to devote human
and financial resources to the many other ministries that define parish
...the need to serve the traditional family with the need to recognize
changing forms of family life;
...the need to form children in the ways of faith with the need to foster
life-long faith formation;
...the need for parish identity with the need for inter-parish
Adopted by the Waterloo Pastoral Leaders, February 2006.
Endorsed by the Pastoral Councils, Spring 2006.