Communication is focus of Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting

Categories: Around the Diocese

The Visitor

Communication was the theme of the Diocesan Pastoral Council’s meeting May 16 at St. Louis Parish in Paynesville.

Diocesan communications director and editor of The Visitor newspaper, Joe Towalski, spoke to the council about the mission and history of the newspaper the process for publishing the print edition, and how the staff is working to integrate The Visitor’s print and online content.

Since the merging of the Communications Office and The Visitor last July, the staff has focused on bolstering the newspaper’s presence on the web and social media, including Facebook and Twitter, with the goal of engaging new audiences while maintaining the quality of the print newspaper and its focus on local news and features.

“This summer we’ll be working on a redesign of The Visitor’s website to make it more engaging and reader friendly,” Towalski said. The staff also will be discussing a minor redesign of the print edition and how it could be more effective in reaching the diocese’s growing Latino population, he said.

Two-way channel

In his remarks to the group, Bishop Donald Kettler said communication — relaying information to parishes and lay people, and bringing their issues and concerns back to the bishop — is a key part of the Diocesan Pastoral Council’s work.

Bishop Kettler asked members of the DPC to continue building open lines of communication with pastors, parish councils and parish liaisons.
He said the council helps him in his role as bishop by serving an important consultative role. “This is [an essential] connection I have with lay people,” he said. “I consider this one of the most important bodies I have because of who you represent.”

The 20-member council includes lay representatives from each of the diocese’s seven deaneries as well as members representing youth, priests, deacons, men’s and women’s religious communities, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and the multicultural community.

Bishop Donald Kettler asked council members to survey their constituents on several communications-related questions ahead of the council’s next meeting in September:

  •  Do you feel communications channels from the diocese, and to the diocese, are adequate? If not, how can they be improved?
  • How are you using The Visitor?
  •  What suggestions do you have for The Visitor?
  • How are you using other communications media, such as websites and social media?

In other news:

  •  Council members said they received few responses from parishes to questions they posed about how churches are using results from the parish vibrancy tool.

The tool identifies key elements of parish life for pastors and parishioners to evaluate: community, evangelization, servant leadership, service, stewardship, Word (formation of faith), and worship and prayer. All but two parishes in the diocese have completed the tool and were presented with the results identifying their strengths and challenges.

Some parishes said they didn’t find the tool useful and aren’t using the results for goal-setting or planning purposes, several council members said. One parish suggested offering the tool again but revising and shortening the questions to make them easier to understand, said Darrell Welle, Little Falls Deanery representative. Some parishes are also choosing to focus on one category of survey results at a time, he said.

The diocesan Planning Council, which met May 14, is currently examining the vibrancy tool to determine what revisions could be made that would better enable parishes to develop their goals and objectives in a more unified way.

  • The council elected new officers to three-year terms: chair, Darrell Welle; vice chair, Jason Stock, St. Cloud/St. Joseph Deanery representative; and secretary, Evelyn Otto, Fergus Falls/Wadena Deanery representative.