“It [the parish] has an indispensable mission of great contemporary importance: to create the basic community of the Christian people; to initiate and gather the people in the accustomed expression of liturgical life; to conserve and renew the faith in the people of today; to serve as the school for teaching the salvific message of Christ; to put solidarity in practice and work the humble charity of good and brotherly works” (Pope Paul VI, Address to Roman Clergy, AAS, 55).
In Service of the New Evangelization
The Indicators of Vitality is a self-assessment tool that assists pastors and parishioners in clarifying current needs and strategically planning for full and active participation in the mission of the New Evangelization. The indicators address five core areas of parish life:
Worship: The heart of parish life is the celebration of the Eucharist. From the Eucharist flows all of the worship, prayer and faith formation of the parish. This indicator examines the vitality of the parish’s liturgical life.
Education: Forming the lay faithful for mission depends on a variety of educational programs. Assessing the parish’s ability to provide education and faith formation to parishioners of all ages is the focus of this indicator.
Community: Building community begins with hospitality. Vitality is found in a parish’s ability to make all members feel at home and to open wide the doors of the parish to welcome inactive Catholics and all who seek a relationship with the Lord.
Service: This dimension of parish life assesses the ways in which the parish calls parishioners to serve all those in need. It evaluates the parish’s commitment to bring the Gospel to bear on the issues of the day in a way that supports the mission of the Church.
Administration: The ability to carry out the mission of the Church depends on strong leadership. In this area, staffing, management of parish resources and decision-making processes are evaluated.
The Assessment Process
- Using the archdiocesan survey as a guide, develop a survey inviting parishioners to assess the strengths of parish life and identifies opportunities for growth and development
- Distribute the surveys across the parish and invite people to complete the survey
- Invite the parish pastoral council and parish leaders together to review the results of the survey and propose short (six months-one year) and long-term (not more than two years) goals in response to survey results
- Share the proposed goals with the parish at large and ask the parish to identify priorities based on the proposals
- Consider making the Indicators of Vitality part of the planning responsibility of the parish pastoral council
Develop a plan to meet the short and long term goals and appoint a task group of two-three people to oversee the implementation of the plan
Read Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision, A Pastoral Letter on The New Evangelization to the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Archdiocese of Washington by Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Indicators of Vitality Archdiocesan Staff
Dr. Susan Timoney, Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns
Rev. Richard Kramer, Director of Family Life and Leadership Development
Debbie McDonald, Executive Director of Parish Pastoral Planning
Contact Dr. Susan Timoney at [email protected] or 301-853-4596 to begin the assessment process in your parish.