Pastoral Plan is ready for implementation

Bishop Joe Vásquez gave examples of some of his recent encounters with Christ during his remarks about the Pastoral Plan on Oct. 12 at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. (Photo by Shelley Metcalf)

By Shelley Metcalf
Catholic Spirit Staff

Bishop Joe Vásquez unveiled the diocesan Pastoral Plan: Encounter that Leads to Transformation Oct. 12 at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. 
The Pastoral Plan belongs to the entire church of the Diocese of Austin, said Bishop Vásquez, and he asked for all Catholics to read it and understand it. 
“I ask you to join me in studying the goals, initiatives and objectives and become involved in the implementation of the plan. In doing so, we can help others encounter the Living Christ who desires to live in our hearts and who is very much concerned with our sufferings, hopes and joys. Christ wants to embrace all people, and we have a great opportunity through this plan to make that a reality,” the bishop said. 
The Pastoral Plan is similar to a strategic plan for a business. It was developed with a committee of 30 volunteers and staff and will be used as an operational guide over the next three to five years. Catholics and non-practicing Catholics were surveyed and a number of listening sessions were held around the diocese in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. The data collected from these meetings and surveys was used by the committee to develop the plan’s objectives. 
“We first began by asking ourselves a few questions: Where are we now and what are the needs of the diocese? What we discovered is that the diocese is extremely blessed,” the bishop said. “But, we also knew, that there is always more that can and should be done to serve the needs of the people.” 
Bishop Vásquez expressed his thanks for the priests of the diocese, who are crucial to the implementation of the Pastoral Plan. 
“One of the greatest blessings we have in the Diocese of Austin is our priests. They are hard-working, faithful and committed to serving Christ and his people,” he said. “It is only with (their) help that the Pastoral Plan can be successful. I depend on (them) to communicate this plan to our people and to encourage them to live out their faith through an encounter with Jesus Christ.”
The plan has three major goals: to provide spiritual formation that leads to encounter, to create a culture of ministry for individuals and communities, and to strengthen Catholic witness and outreach. 
“This plan calls us to have continual opportunities for people to encounter Christ in our formation programs, retreats, and, especially, in the celebration of the Mass,” Bishop Vásquez said.
The plan also calls for strengthening families, providing leadership formation for clergy and religious and reaching out to those on the peripheries to help those in need.
“Christ and the church have a universal mission that embraces all. We must respond to everyone’s needs and this Pastoral Plan will help us accomplish this mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ,” the bishop concluded.
To read the Pastoral Plan, visit www.austindiocese.org.