Pastoral Council Minutes – August 2017

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St. Stephen the Martyr Pastoral Council


August 22, 2017


The regularly scheduled meeting of the Pastoral Council of Saint Stephen the Martyr  (“Council”) was held on August 22, 2017, at 7:00 PM, Central Daylight Time, in the Gonderinger Parish Center.


I.                    Call to Order

President Aaron Keller called the meeting to order.  Hope DeLuca, Secretary, recorded minutes of the meeting.


II.                 Roll Call

The following members of the Council were present:

  • Father Dave Belt
  • Ernie Abbott
  • Dean Baumert
  • Katie Corrigan
  • Hope DeLuca
  • Aaron Keller
  • Mike Maier
  • Deb Saraka-Rubin
  • Greg Weiss
  • Michael White
  • Nancy Williams



III.              Opening Prayer

Deb Saraka-Rubin led the Council in a prayer to open the meeting.



IV.               Unfinished Business

Ministry Structure

  • There are six groupings of ministries. After the President, Vice President and Secretary, the remaining Council members will be taking care of the ministry groupings.


  • Fr. Belt said that the Holy Father has the College of Cardinals. Archbishop Lucas has the Archdiocesan Priest Council. A pastor has his pastoral council, which is his primary consulting body. Every staff person who is responsible for a ministry should also have a board of people in place to consult with.


  • Fr. Belt needs a group that has a sense of the whole puzzle. The staff knows pieces, but we need to know all of the pieces of the puzzle. We need to have a sense of the big picture. We’re all working in collaboration.


  • The Council members will be a contact point for the ministries.


  • Mr .Keller stated that in regard to ministries, we need to know who they are, who they serve, and what their purpose is. Should we expand to more categories? Do we need to add or eliminate ministries? Some ministries don’t have a current leader. Do they need a new leader, or should that ministry be discontinued? There’s a ministry/service side and a staff side.


  • Mr. Baumert asked if all of these ministries align to our purpose. Is there anything that we are missing?


  • Fr. Belt said that we need to discern our identity. Our mission statement needs to be honed in. It should wrap around the Archdiocesan mission statement: One Church, making disciples, making mercy. This is a beautiful time to look at all of this. What is our purpose or role?


  • Mr. Keller asked the Council to look at the Archdiocesan mission statement, formulate questions and digest it for next time.



Disciple Maker Index Results – Dcn. Abbott


  • Dcn. Abbott presented the results from the Disciple Maker Index.


  • We had a 22% response rate for the Disciple Maker Index. The survey company was looking for an 8% response, so we did well in that regard. Only 26% of the responders were strong, active members that would promote the parish. Our numbers are consistently average, along with the Archdiocese. 53% would recommend the parish. Only the folks that strongly agree that St. Stephen’s is helping their spiritual growth will help us evangelize. 37% of our parishioners believed they grew spiritually as a parishioner.


Questions that came up while going through the data:

  • Our pastor’s leadership is essential. How do we drive up the approval rating of the pastor?
  • We have a great adult faith formation program, but only 21% strongly agree that parishioners want to be formed as disciples. We need to identify areas to improve upon.
  • Only 33% of parishioners agreed that Sunday Mass helps them grow. How can we drive up that number?
  • There was data from “World Class Parishes” that our numbers were compared to. What are these parishes doing? How can we match that?
  • We need to make sure what we do is targeted, and it will work. Listen to our parishioners. Understand what our people want/need.
  • Can we get data from other specific local parishes that were also on this study? Dcn. Abbot would be able to get that information for us.
  • 11% of parishioners felt that they were given the opportunity to witness about their faith, which is an overall average number. There’s a distinction between catechesis and evangelization. Its programs like Christ Renews His Parish, Adoration, etc. where parishioners are going to feel comfortable sharing their faith on a deeper level.
  • Could we possibly coach parishioners on the survey, when it comes around again? Just like buying an appliance, and the salesman asks for a good review, could we help our parishioners when it’s time to answer a survey about the parish? Are these people disciples, and just don’t know it yet?
  • Mr. White remembered hearing a negative response when the gym Mass was discontinued. Could this reflect on the survey results?
  • The advertised time allotment for the survey was 15-20 minutes. It did not take that long to complete. Could it have scared people away, thinking it was going to take a large chunk of time?
  • Dcn. Abbott said that we need to see what’s working, and what’s not. The survey will be repeated in two years.



V.                 New Business

Fr. James Mallon Workshop

  • Fr. James Mallon is coming to the Archdiocese to present a workshop. Father Belt asked for five St. Stephen’s parishioners to come for the first day of the workshop, on October 2. Clergy will stay for an additional day.
  • The workshop is on “Divine Renovation, Bringing Your Parish from Maintenance to Mission”, by Fr. James Mallon. The workshop will give us momentum. We have everything in place now to give us a great dynamic plan.
  • The parishioners that attend the workshop will be asked to form a planning committee that would report back to the Council.
  • Mr. Keller asked the Council to come up with recommendations for the workshop attendees by Monday, August 28th.


Stewardship Report/Deacon Marty’s Report

  • Going forward, all outside reports should be given to the Council prior to meetings to allow members to digest the information.
  • It’s important to know all of the puzzle. Finance, evangelization, stewardship, etc.
  • We want folks to say they’re getting too much information.
  • One idea would be to utilize a Google drive.


Holy Day Mass Times on Website

  • The holy day Mass schedule was not on the website. A parishioner called, quite upset.
  • The website has been an issue for a while, not getting updated.
  • Fr. Belt said that there’s a holy day schedule that’s now consistent. We’ve added a vigil Mass.



Saturday Daily Mass

  • Mr. Maier asked if adding a Saturday morning daily Mass was still up for consideration. Fr. Belt said that its unfortunately off the table now. Fr. Hall is retiring and there will only be two priests moving forward. Fr. Belt is working on finding substitutes to help with Masses, confessions, etc.


Comments from Fr. Belt

  • Fr. Belt is working on communication and organization of the staff.
  • Enrollment for the school is down.
  • The Board of Ed is working on documents that were approved by the parish, but were never sent on for Archdiocese or legal review. We may need to send the Council constitution to Dcn. Luna, then to the Archdiocese for review.
  • The Board of Ed currently oversees the school and religious ed. That model isn’t effective. The board is going to discuss different scenarios. Fr. Belt would like to have a separate school board and religious ed board. We don’t currently have an evangelization team or board.
  • The superintendent for the Archdiocese came to visit today. We’d like to benchmark a current climate study for our school
  • The Archdiocesan superintendent, Dr. Michael Ashton was given the St. Stephen’s school handbook. He will talk with Fr. Belt about it after going over it.
  • Last year, the school was $100,000 in the red. The parish covered it. This year, its projected that it will be the same.
  • There were a number of things being done liturgically that were not in line. Fr. Belt is working on fixing those areas.
  • The way we’ve done church for the past century doesn’t work in the 21st We’re going to go back to the priest just providing sacraments. We are one team. We need to work together.


Greg Weiss – Adoration Committee

  • Mr. Weiss met with Dcn. Marty and Fr. Belt regarding perpetual adoration. We need two people scheduled per hour, every hour. That’s our goal. We have 55% of the hours covered. Overnight hours are the big need.
  • Fr. Loseke, from St. Charles Borromeo is excited about our goal of perpetual adoration. We may seek a partnership with St. Charles Borromeo to help fill in the hours for perpetual adoration.
  • Ablaze will be coming to St. Stephen’s on September 8th. It’s also Mary’s birthday, which will be a great event.
  • Orientation of the Adoration Chapel: We’d like to keep adoration in the current adoration chapel. The concern is reorienting it. We’d like to not have to stare at another person while trying to pray. We’d like to re-cushion the kneelers, get a bookshelf, and possibly a new tabernacle.
  • We would need to remove the pedestal. The tabernacle would go on the West side of the chapel.
  • Confession brings lots of activity to the chapel. We could put a sign outside so the confession line forms outside the doors. Some folks are louder than others in the confessional. We could maybe consider a white noise machine to cover it up.
  • Fr. Belt asked the Council to talk with parishioners about the possible changes to the adoration chapel. We don’t want to be too quick to do this.
  • Mr. Keller added that there will need to be electrical and lighting work. We will also possibly get a complaint of “why aren’t we moving it into the worship space”. We need to think it through.
  • Could we possibly do a “town hall meeting” to ask input on the adoration chapel? We are considering this because adoration is taking off.



VI.               Closing

Being no other business, the Council closed the meeting with the Prayer for Vocations.  The meeting was adjourned at 9:27 pm.



Author: tmarble