October 15, 2017
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
This has been an exhilarating time for Catholics in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. We’re still basking in the joyful radiance of the recent beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother.
During this busy time, it probably went unnoticed that we also marked the fourth anniversary of the release of my pastoral letter called “Go Make Disciples,” which articulated a strategic vision for the archdiocese.
In that document, I laid out a five-year program. I am pleased to report that we have made significant strides toward meeting the goals outlined.
The overall vision that “Go Make Disciples” articulates aims to move us from maintenance to mission by forming missionary disciples who are on fire with the love of Christ. We identified three pastoral priorities around which our diocesan resources and energies would be harnessed.
The first priority is “the new evangelization.” This term was used frequently by Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict to describe the need to rekindle the missionary impulse of the Church of Pentecost in our own time. We identified two key goals to move us along in pursuit of this priority – create an office of new evangelization and initiate a parish evangelization plan.
We met the first goal by establishing the Office of New Evangelization and hiring Carole Brown as its director.
The second goal has been a bit more challenging. As we worked toward that goal, we became increasingly convinced that there was a need for structural and organizational changes to facilitate our renewed focus on mission within the chancery.
Over time, we have grown in clarity and understanding about what needs to be done. The past year has seen a tremendous re-organization effort within the chancery. This has resulted in re-aligning various departments to facilitate closer collaboration for mission. This included physically re-arranging work spaces to encourage collaboration among kindred departments. Consequently, we now have a new Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis with Executive Director Jim Beckman, who coordinates the work of several departments around key priorities. Jim started this position in early August.
The second priority area articulated in “Go Make Disciples” is “faith formation.” The goals outlined for this priority have been somewhat stalled due to leadership transitions and the restructuring process. The new Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis will pick up these tasks and carry them forward to completion.
In the meantime, we have launched a new Transforming Adolescent Catechesis process in a number of our parishes and schools. I look forward to seeing that process completed in the places where it was started, and hopefully expanded to many other parishes and schools. We have seen an increase in adult faith formation opportunities, but again with the restructuring process have not seen the measured results of that increase.
The enormous turnout for the Beatification Mass, which was attended by an estimated 20,000 people, and the large crowd of more than 4,000 that gathered just a week later for Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic event are certainly signs of a vibrant faith among Catholics in Oklahoma.
Finally, the third priority we articulated is “Hispanic ministry.” Latinos are the growing edge of our Catholic population in Oklahoma. The first goal in this priority area is being addressed. Providentially, it is being aided by the beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother.
As we develop our plans for a beautiful shrine to honor Blessed Stanley Rother, we also will be able to alleviate some overcrowding that many of our parishes serving Spanish-speaking Catholics in the metropolitan area have been experiencing. The shrine will serve not only as a place of pilgrimage and veneration to honor Blessed Stanley Rother, but also a large Catholic church for major diocesan events and a place of worship and formation to minister, especially, though not exclusively, to a growing Hispanic population.
We have now completed the second goal in the Hispanic Ministry priority area. At the end of September, the first class of nearly 200 Hispanic adult students graduated from the new San Juan Diego School of faith formation. Many of those adults will go on to serve in their parishes and communities, helping many others come to a deeper experience of their faith.
As I reflect on these past four years, I would like to thank so many who have welcomed, embraced and even celebrated the vision of “Go Make Disciples.” Their passion for Christ and discipleship, and their openness to the Spirit, have been a driving force behind the implementation and realization of the goals outlined in my letter.
As we mark this four-year anniversary, I look forward to the next year and to providing direction for the future. The new Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis will be re-engaging a process very similar to what we did before – listening sessions, surveys, committee work, etc. We will assess our progress on all of these goals, recalibrating and determining what needs to be done to finish what we started, and provide vision and direction for the archdiocese moving forward.
I look forward to sharing more with you about this in the coming year. It is indeed an exciting time to be a Catholic in Oklahoma! Blessed Stanley Rother, pray for us!
Go Make Disciples measurable goals:
1. New Evangelization
Create an Office of New Evangelization in the archdiocese by Nov. 1, 2013.
Initiate an archdiocesan new evangelization plan in 20 to 30 parishes and all diocesan offices by Nov. 1, 2014.
2. Faith Formation
Implement a year-long “Transforming Adolescent Catechesis” process in 12 to 16 parishes and Catholic high schools of the archdiocese by Nov. 30, 2014. Increase participation in adult faith formation opportunities by 5 to 10 percent throughout the archdiocese by July 1, 2015.
3. Hispanic Ministry
Begin implementation of a plan to alleviate the overcrowding of churches with significant Hispanic populations in the metropolitan Oklahoma City area by May 1, 2014. Enroll the first class of a Spanish language basic adult faith formation program among Spanish-speaking Catholics in the archdiocese by June 1, 2014.
To download Archbishop Coakley’s pastoral letter in English or Spanish, go online to www.archokc.org.