STEP4ward – Parish Revitalization

Parish Revitalization

Parishes are the homes of our Christian communities, centered on the Sunday Mass and focused on making saints. We do not just receive what we need from our parish, but we are also summoned to serve the mission of the Gospel. The end of our Mass is the beginning of our mission to go out and bring others back to Mass! We are formed by the Body of Christ in the Eucharist to go out into the world as the hands, the face, and the heart of Christ. As the Vatican recently taught in a document on pastoral conversion, the parish is “a sign of the permanent presence of the Risen Lord in the midst of his People.” At the same time, as Pope Francis reminded us in the Joy of the Gospel, the parish must be “capable of self-renewal” and “constant adaptivity.”

STEP4ward is the IMF’s accompaniment program for parishes to help pastors and their leadership teams strategize, measure goals, and work plans towards a unified vision. The IMF provides formation for the parish team, including curricula to support the parish’s strategies and one on one assistance as parishes execute their plans. STEP4ward transforms parish leadership into a culture that is more collaborative, accountable, transparent, and goal driven. We form saints!

STEP4ward is a robust pastoral planning process for parishes featuring accompaniment and formation for the parish strategy team.  You can explore the various steps and dimensions of the STEP4ward process by interacting with this Prezi Presentation.

Become a STEP4ward parish

Becoming a STEP4ward parish means entering into partnership with the St. Vincent Seminary Institute for Ministry Formation.  The IMF is committed to helping your parish develop a multi-year strategy with vision, goals, strategies and measures along with work areas so that you can coordinate across the diverse areas of your parish, divide the work and track your progress.  The cost for a full year of accompaniment is $10,000.  That includes three IMF academic courses for the formation of your staff or volunteers.  The IMF is dedicated to serving the development and growth of parishes, so financial aid is available if the cost is prohibitive.  You can request more information by contacting the Institute for Ministry Formation.

May they all be One!

You have probably heard that every baptized Catholic is responsible for the mission of the Church, and that each of us has a role to help bring about the Kingdom of God.  That is easy to say but can be difficult to do.  In our church today it is clear that we must work together as missionaries in rebuilding our parishes and communities.  As leaders in our faith the Parish Revitalization Playbook is a platform to help parishes take a step forward in building vibrant community through a logical, prayerful, and thoughtful approach to transformation.

Parish Revitalization Playbook Overview:

The Parish Revitalization process is about taking an important step forward at this time in the Church’s evolution to re-establish or recreate vibrant, engaged communities.  Parish life is built around a prayerful, sacramental, and spiritual agenda that enables community to come together while allowing each member to grow in their personal relationship with our Lord.  The playbook is a logical process that allows pastors and lay leaders to create a structured path to this realization.

Vision for Parish Revitalization:

The vision of the STEP4ward program is to enable parishes through the Faithful to live and participate in an active community built on the sacraments and ministries of the church through collaboration.  Together we can build a force of positive change across the community with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.  This community carries on the mission of Jesus Christ of Loving God and our neighbors through our example.

How do we move forward?

Leaders and teams interested in this process can use the Revitalization Cycle as a framework to continuously assist them on this journey.  It is a toolkit to assist Parish Leaders in building a team of disciples who chart the course and then recruit others to join the mission.  It is rooted in prayer and the sacraments but focuses on taking action in building our Church one person at a time.

What is the Revitalization Cycle?

The Parish Revitalization Cycle is outlined in this graphic and involves 5 key steps and requires leading this work in a highly collaborative and inspiring way with the leadership team of the parish.

What Does the End State look like when deployed effectively?

A spiritually enriched community of enthusiastic people all focused on living their lives around our faith and the sacraments while building friendships and a network of people focused on the same agenda.  It is manifested in a vibrant growing church that has dozens of active ministries forming people sacramentally, devotionally, and spiritually.  It is financially sustainable and builds a foundation for the next generations of faithful.

Click here for a one-page handout.

Endorsements for STEP4ward

  1. ENDORSEMENT 1 from Fr. Jean Luc Zadroga, OSB, Pastor, Mary, Queen of Saints Parish, Diocese of Pittsburgh
    “Shortly after having been assigned to the MACH1grouping of four parishes in the Beaver Valley, Fr. Boniface and John Hans came out to meet with me about the IMF and STEP4ward (S4w). Having never been a pastor before, hearing about what S4w was offering, and the task that I had just walked into, the decision to bring it to our grouping was easy! Because of S4w, the whole merging process with its concerns such as a new name, combining assets, realignment of staff, now very clearly becomes a necessary but smaller piece of the higher goal which is to make our new parish healthy, vibrant, and holy! John Hans has been providing great guidance to me in setting the agendas of our council meetings in such a way that we meet the diocesan timeline for each mile marker of the merging process while helping our parishioners become excited about the real work that we as a parish are about. The S4w program highlights the importance of the Sunday Mass: it’s in and through the liturgical life of the parish that we together encounter the saving love of Jesus. In our moving ahead as a parish, S4w is helping us place a priority on building a strong sense of community. S4w is teaching our parish council members of the importance of their role as leaders and is providing us with formation for them in a way that doesn’t ask more time of these already-over-extended active parishioners. S4w and John Hans are providing me with much-needed guidance and support in my new role as priest administrator of this group of parishes and helping me to be a more confident and effective leader. S4w’s approach is based on a truly Catholic theology. This is not a parish renewal offering that in any way diminishes the distinction between priest and the lay faithful and their distinct roles in the life of a parish. It accentuates the beautiful complementarity that is essential in building a Catholic parish. I would strongly encourage any priest who is wanting to energize his parish with a new excitement in leading people to holiness, in a way that is authentically Catholic,  to invite Step4ward to your parish.”
  2. ENDORSEMENT from Fr. Frank Almade, Pastor, St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Diocese of Pittsburgh
    “Quality homes are built with a solid foundation, attractive construction and are meant to be lived in and enjoyed by families for years and years. The STEP4ward planning process is similar. It is built on the solid foundation of Catholic teaching, the call for disciples of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Good News of salvation. It affirms the gifts and talents of the parish community to uniquely tailor the message to the particular needs of the people. It helps the parish to grow and develop as a vibrant, effective and hospitable portion of the family of parishes in the diocese and affirm the value and worth of STEP4ward to help parishes evangelize today and tomorrow.”
  3. ENDORSEMENT 3 from Msgr Michael Begolly, Pastor, Diocese of Greensburg
    “I believe the partnership between STEP4ward and the IMF enables current and emerging parish leaders to be better equipped in their role of leading the Church in our rapidly changing world. The Church is sometimes challenged with lack of accountability and transparency in many areas of pastoral life. The work of STEP4ward could help break down these barriers to trust by providing a positive model for laity and clergy to work together in a transformational vision for the future.”