What Is Realign Resources for Mission? A Beginner’s Guide

In the fall of 2019, Bishop Earl Boyea established a new 14-member committee to review how the resources of the Diocese of Lansing can be best used to better evangelize the 1.8 million people who live within the boundaries of the diocese.

In his commissioning letter to the members of the committee, Bishop Boyea encouraged the committee to be “bold and innovative in exploring ideas for renewal and growth,” and urged them to “envision a diocese with parishes that are fully alive communities of missionary disciples, with a vibrant sacramental life, where everyone can encounter Jesus Christ, most especially in the Eucharist.”

Bishop Boyea’s decision to establish the committee was informed by a range of statistical evidence which shows decline across the diocese over the past few decades, including an increasingly unsustainable drop in the number of priests. Hence, he believes that the status quo is no longer an option.

The membership of the committee includes priests, deacons and lay men and women from across the diocese who were nominated by the presbyterate and diocesan staff. Overseeing the process as chairman is Father Mathias Thelen, pastor of Saint Patrick’s in Brighton.

How has the committee gone about its work so far? Primarily they have prayed, discussed and discerned. The discernment has been informed by an incredible amount of data which they have gathered over the past year.

They analyzed five years of parish data such as financial, sacramental and demographic statistics using MapDash for Faith Communities; surveyed more than 20,000 parishioners via the Disciple Maker Index; surveyed more than 400 key parish figures via Key Parish Leader survey; and surveyed 71 clergy via the Called for More Priest Preferences and Passions Survey. A consulting firm, Veracruz, has helped to analyze our Catholic schools.

The committee interviewed many experts specializing in Church renewal and growth, including Catholic Leadership Institute; Amazing Parish; Divine Renovation; and Acts XXIX. It also consulted with a range of other dioceses in the United States and beyond.

The committee also hosted 67 parish visits across the diocese in order to explain the Realign Resources for Mission vision and to elicit feedback from parishioners in each location. That vision consists of four key principles such that, in the future, we should be able to say that a healthy parish within the Diocese of Lansing:

  • Is led by priests striving for health and holiness
  • Equips and empowers parish staff
  • Makes and forms missionary disciples
  • Seeks the lost and serves the poor

The Realign Resources for Mission Committee now intends to return to the lay faithful with draft plans before submitting a final recommendation to Bishop Boyea by Oct. 1, 2021.

On the following page, Father Mathias gives an update on where the Realign Resources for Mission process stands, and explains how your feedback has shaped the present vision.