Lay Survey "Top Ten" Suggestions

Spanish Version

The following is a list of the "top ten" helpful suggestions for each survey topic. These suggestions were selected because they were frequently mentioned. In addition, they are suggestions that could provide helpful considerations for a parish in assessing how it helps lay Catholics live out their call as Christians in the world. Although the topics are listed in order of importance to the survey respondents, The "top ten" are not listed in priority order.

  1. To help me live out my cal/ as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve its adult faith formation/adult education: (Question 1A - Knowledge of the faith)

    Provide support from the pulpit encouraging and challenging parishioners to grow and mature in their faith.

    Provide good quality, spiritually nourishing classes, lectures, or discussion groups on Sundays or in the evenings on subjects such as Catholic social teaching, church history, Vatican II, church teachings, and topics from the catechism. Offer Advent and Lenten programs. Coordinate with local seminaries and theology schools to offer low-cost continuing education classes or lectures.

    Establish position for professional Director of Adult Formation at parish or deanery level. Give adult faith formation the same priority that is allotted to children. Provide resources and regularly scheduled and structured programs.

    Sponsor programs for young adults including "Theology on Tap."

    Acknowledge the importance of single adults in parish communities. Offer programs to meet their needs.

    Promote development of small faith communities.

    Publicize programs and events being offered by neighboring parishes/diocese.

    Look at new models of intergenerational learning and hire Director of Family Life to oversee adult and children's programs and ministries.

    Offer retreats including the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

    Provide resources in a parish library.

  2. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve how it supports parents in passing on their faith to their children: (Question 1B - Knowledge of the Faith)

    Schedule evening and week-end faith formation programs rather than after-school; provide resources and support to home schooling families; make Catholic education more widely available through more schools and lower tuition.

    Offer a variety of faith formation opportunities including intergenerational family faith formation programs, lectionary-based catechesis, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Vacation Bible School, and programs for children with special needs.

    Promote better communication with parents through parent participation in classes, parent orientation sessions and meetings, and handout materials so that lessons can be reinforced at home.

    Emphasize lifelong catechesis: provide adult faith formation including adult education, enrichment, and Bible study during children's class times; promote discussion groups; provide guidance to parents on what and how to teach the faith, on the different levels of faith development, and on how to live the faith at home (domestic church.

    Provide resources for families: lending library of books, videos, and children's music; bulletin inserts or section on parenting tips; monthly parent newsletter; speakers; take-home materials with activities, stories, traditions, rituals, explanations, and devotions.

    Provide total youth ministry programs that encompass faith, service, and social activities; offer post-confirmation service opportunities.

    Increase funding for faith formation: invest financially in Directors of Religious Education and Youth Ministers by providing just salaries to hire educated staff with appropriate credentials, experience, and skills; support catechists through better training, resources, and enrichment opportunities, and provide equitable distribution of funds between parish school and parish religious education program.

    Promote community building efforts through more parent/child activities including family service opportunities; teen and family liturgies; family retreats; and family devotions, Advent/Lenten activities, and special activity nights/days.

    Offer Children's Liturgy of the Word and "teaching" Masses so that children hear the Word proclaimed in an age-appropriate manner and learn about the different parts of the Mass.

    Include Christian parenting component in baptismal preparation programs to educate parents on importance of passing on the faith; provide "post-baptismal" ministries with support groups for new parents, parents of young children, and single parents; sponsor mentoring programs with older and more experienced parents.

  3. to help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improves how it helps me to understand more about Catholic teaching, including teaching about social justice: (Question 1D Knowledge of the Faith)

    Sponsor year-round social outreach programs and activities that challenge the parish and provide opportunities for involvement. Provide programs for youth.

    Emphasize, "Living the Gospel" through adopting twinning relationships with parishes in the developing world as well as in the inner city.

    Recruit social justice minister to educate the parish and integrate Catholic social teaching into all aspects of parish life including worship, Scripture studies, and education.

    Provide homilies that support "faith in action" and offer concrete ways to "live the Gospel." Incorporate local and national concerns into the Prayer of the Faithful.

    Form social justice committee to plan programs and provide forum on issues and teachings. Sponsor lecture series with guest speakers. Offer library of reading materials.

    Address the gap between Catholic social teaching and any injustices practiced by the church at the diocesan and parish levels, particularly in employment practices. Consider collective bargaining and just wages.

    Utilize homilies and bulletin inserts to examine systemic causes of injustice.

    Offer adult faith formation program.

    Sponsor "action" initiatives including letter-writing and e-mail campaigns to legislators.

    Use parish bulletin, newsletter, and website to post excerpts of church teachings and present brief biographies of role models.

  4. to help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improves how it helps me deepen my understanding of the Bible: (Question 1C - Knowledge of the Faith)

    Offer year-round adult Scripture study including short-term classes that start at various times during the year; offer rotating times (day, evening, week-end, and during children's faith formation classes) for non-working and working parishioners; provide child care during classes.

    Provide fliers, bulletin columns or inserts with reflections of readings.

    Provide well-prepared homilies that explain Scripture and connect it to everyday life.

    Recruit knowledgeable and trained people to lead Bible studies or teach adult classes. Designate person in diocesan office to offer resources and training for parish Bible studies.

    Support faith-sharing groups.

    Develop lending library of resources including books, audio tapes, and videos.

    Offer different levels of Scripture studies for beginning and advanced students; offer a variety of classes including the books of the Bible, Sunday readings, and on topical subjects such as women or peace and justice.

    Provide on-line learning opportunities; publish relevant website links in bulletin or on parish website.

    Offer Scripture study for teens and children; provide story-telling opportunities for the young to engage them in Scripture.

    Sponsor lecture series addressing biblical issues or-topics.

  5. to help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it celebrates Sunday liturgy: (Question 2C - Liturgical Life)

    Provide education about the Eucharistic liturgy, the meaning of its parts, the role of the ministers (clergy and lay, men and women), the role of the assembly, placement of liturgical implements and furniture, etc. Offer a symposium on this.

    Explain the General Instruction of the Roman Missal to foster an understanding of the gestures, postures, and prayers of the liturgy Ire: kneeling, gestures of the presider and other ministers, holding hands, sign of peace, receiving communion, use of incense and bells, history of changes in the liturgy throughout the ages, etc.).

    Ensure that music is well prepared and appropriate to the celebration. Music is a very important issue for many people (too much, too little, not enough traditional, not enough contemporary). Hire trained music staff to work with parishioners to better understand and address needs. Teach the congregation to sing, but don't make it a show.

    Give homilies that address contemporary issues and the Gospel response to those issues.

    Emphasize full, active and conscious participation as outlined in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Encourage people to worship God with their hearts, not just routine. Have the laity take an active part in planning the liturgies with their priests. Provide training and education to all involved.

    Emphasize that Sunday liturgy is a community celebration, not a private prayer.

    Include all members of the community in ministries especially young people. Ensure that language used is inclusive.

    Address multicultural issues in a constructive, community building way.

    Stress the importance of a community gathering once a week to celebrate the Eucharist.

    Offer a variety of Mass times and a variety of styles (e.g., music styles). Ensure that liturgies are life-giving; that they foster reverence, mystery, and a sense of the sacred; and that homilies are prayerful and relevant to the laity.

  6. to Help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . its preaching at mass and other liturgies: (Question 2D - Liturgical Life)

    Encourage preaching that invites, leads, welcomes, and affirms God's love for us.

    Provide well-prepared and well-delivered homilies.

    Offer in-services and preaching retreats and workshops to develop skills and knowledge about Scripture, social justice issues, and contemporary cultural life.

    Provide ongoing training and evaluation of homilies. Provide short, concise and inspirational homilies that relate the readings to today's world.

    Ensure that homilies reflect the message of the Gospel and challenge the hearer rather than scolding them about the rules of the church.

    Seek good homilists; use persons who "have the gift of preaching." Recognize that some priests are gifted in other areas, but not in preaching.

    Allow lay people to preach, particularly those who have been trained and possess skills for preaching. Develop a lay preaching program with a strong formation component.

    Allow women's voices to be heard. It is important that all hear women's reflections on Scripture, and especially important for women to hear from women who share their experience of life and spirituality.

    Improve seminary training on homiletics.

  7. to help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . opportunities for active participation of the community in worship: (Question 2A - Liturgical Life)

    Establish liturgy committees; involve parishioners in seasonal liturgical planning such as Lenten Stations of the Cross, first reconciliation, communal reconciliation services, etc.

    Seek out new liturgical ministers; rotate ministers on a regular basis; ensure that different people bring forward the gifts each week. Extend personal invitations to ministry. Encourage more ethnic diversity and the inclusion of minorities and persons with disabilities as liturgical leaders. Provide training for all liturgical ministers.

    Include women in more visible roles at liturgies. Allow girls and women to be altar servers, acolytes, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and to participate in foot-washing on Holy Thursday.

    Provide opportunities for sharing of parishioners' gifts and talents including music, dance, and art. Recognize cultural diversity of parishioners by attending to ethnic customs and traditions in liturgies.

    Include youth and young adults. Reach out to teens, particularly after confirmation. Offer regularly scheduled youth masses.

    Involve assembly in liturgy by providing more processions to gather the community, including their petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful, and allowing reflections by trained laypersons. Celebrate sacraments of initiation at Sunday liturgies. Allow communion under both species.

    Offer Children's Liturgy of the Word. Provide ways to involve children such as inviting them to gather around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer. Offer more family and children's masses.

    Celebrate "life" events such as graduation, leaving for college, etc.

    Ensure that music is appropriate to the liturgy and can be sung by the assembly.

    Offer smaller group celebrations, missions, and tent revivals.

  8. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it builds community within the parish by providing ways for people to get to know others who share their beliefs and values: (Question 5A - Communal Life)

    Promote activities such as picnics, dances, potluck dinners, ice cream socials, and movie nights. Sponsor seasonal meals such as Lenten dinners as well as ethnic traditions including palm weaving, egg painting, and blessing of baskets.

    Organize short trips to places of interest as well as pilgrimages to holy places.
    Offer hospitality hour with coffee and donuts after mass.

    Support parish wide service projects and social justice activities.

    Support neighborhood groups and small Christian communities within the parish.

    Highlight stories of different parishioners in parish newsletter.

    Support ministry for young adults as well as single adults who often feel left out of family events.

    Initiate support groups for widows/widowers, empty nesters, separated and divorced, parents of young children, the bereaved, and caring for the elderly.

    Support parish life ministry, which would provide meals for those in need such as the sick, the mourning, or for parents of new babies. Provide space in bulletin or on bulletin board to advertise need and to announce parish births, marriages, anniversaries, etc.

    Encourage faith-sharing groups.

  9. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps me deepen my relationship with God: (Question 4C - Prayer)

    Sponsor workshops on prayer and spirituality. Include art, music, and drama in a variety of prayer forms.

    Offer retreats, days of recollection, and missions.

    Increase opportunities for adult faith formation.

    Include the voices and experiences of women. Offer inclusive images of God.

    Offer opportunities for prayer and outreach to others.

    Support a variety of prayer formation opportunities.

    Provide more opportunities for small faith sharing, Scripture study, prayer groups, and Eucharistic adoration.

    Sponsor a parish library with up-to-date materials.

    Teach children a variety of ways to pray.

    Recognize importance of spiritual direction and identify and train more directors.

  10. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps me discern my vocation or profession in life: (Question 3B - Moral Formation)

    Help people understand that a vocation is a call to the entire person to respond to God, not just a lifestyle choice in one aspect of a person's life.

    Communicate that vocation includes all the baptized, not just those called to holy orders or religious life.

    Provide opportunities to learn discernment skills.

    Offer retreats including the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

    Offer retreats and days of reflection for youth.

    Provide more opportunities for spiritual direction.

    Support from diocese and parish for lay ecclesial ministers.

    Encourage lay ministers, especially women, to know and live their vocations.

    Offer more broad-based retreats and programs to help all discern God's will.

    Sponsor "Ministry Formation" programs.

  11. To help me live out my call as a Christian, it is important tome that my parish improves . . . how it helps me to pray as an individual: (Question 4B-Prayer)

    Help people to understand that all of life is prayer.

    Begin and end all parish meetings and functions with prayer.

    Provide ways for adults to experience prayer beyond what they were taught as children.

    Offer workshops on the spirituality of the saints such as St. John of the Cross-, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

    Promote and sponsor days of reflection, week-end retreats, marriage encounters, Cursillios, etc.

    Offer workshops and classes on different types of prayer such as meditation, contemplation, journaling, dancing, art, and centering prayer. Use personality inventory tools such as Myers-Briggs to assist people to better understand themselves and thus to be more open to God in response to their own uniqueness.

    Teach children how to pray; offer them a variety of ways to do so.

    Promote small group faith-sharing as a way of strengthening a person's prayer life.

    Provide online opportunities for prayers and retreats; identify prayer websites. Offer resources such as prayer books for purchase; sponsor a lending library.

    Offer opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration and for praying with the rosary.

  12. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps me to connect my faith with my daily life: (Question 3A - Moral Formation)

    Develop leadership teams to evangelize the parish.

    Provide challenging homilies that connect Gospel teaching with daily life, drawing upon the community's common and contemporary experiences. Offer dialogic homilies. Provide opportunities for laity to share their reflections.

    Establish support groups; need to support one another in bringing the Gospel to the marketplace.

    Promote small Christian communities as a way of building the parish faith community.

    Offer daily masses at times convenient for working people.

    Provide opportunities for social justice and service projects for all ages.

    Support discussion groups, Scripture studies, and retreats.

    Offer training in conflict resolution and stress reduction.

    Provide adult faith formation and family faith formation opportunities.

    Provide resources including a lending library.

  13. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it promotes teaming various ways of praying: (Question 4D - Prayer)

    Offer classes, seminars, and workshops on prayer with trained facilitators. Provide more teaching on what is prayer, how to pray, and different types and forms of prayer and the influence of personality types. Promote websites related to prayer.

    Bring in guest speakers to talk about prayer.

    Support a variety of prayer services such as vespers and Taize.

    Offer traditional devotions such as the rosary, novenas, adoration, and Stations of the Cross.

    Make better use of different prayer forms in all liturgies and prayer services including contemplation, meditation, and centering prayer.

    Promote the formation of prayer groups such as Marian, contemplative, and charismatic, etc.

    Incorporate feminine images of God in homilies and in prayer.

    Educate on mystics, saints, and their spiritualities such as Carmelite, Franciscan, Benedictine, Ignatian, Salesian, Dominican, Augustinian, etc.

    Offer retreats focusing on what prayer is and ways to pray. Provide family retreats as well as separate retreats for adults and children.

    Provide books, pamphlets, and periodicals on prayer.

  14. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps me to pray as part of a community: (Question 4A - Prayer)

    Foster greater understanding of the Sunday liturgy as the public worship of the church and as the time when we gather together for communal prayer.

    Create prayer opportunities other than at mass; include healing services, vespers, and prayer services at times of blessings and crises.

    Expand opportunities for parish-wide programs such as missions, retreats, and days of recollection.

    Encourage community participation in prayer and song.

    Sponsor prayer groups.

    Include opportunities for personal prayer at mass such as at the Prayer of the Faithful.

    Provide opportunities for the laity to lead prayer.

    Encourage and support small faith communities.

    Offer formation in all types of prayer.

    Create opportunities for different types of prayer such as Taize and labyrinth.

  15. to help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improves . . . its outreach to inactive Catholics: (Question 6D - Missionary Spirit)

    Identify inactive Catholics in parish and reach out to them by personal contact by telephone, letter, or visit.

    Develop an evangelization program.

    Periodically offer a program for returning Catholics. Address issues raised by inactive Catholics.

    Publicize church events and programs in religious section of secular newspapers.

    Sponsor "Theology on Tap" and similar programs for young Catholics.

    Offer good, solid youth programs to reach people through their children.

    Sponsor "question and answer" nights.

    Support small faith communities by zones or neighborhoods and identify people to contact inactive Catholics in each neighborhood.

    Offer ministries for separated and divorced, gays and lesbians, etc.

    Be welcoming and affirmative of all who visit.

  16. to help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps people, especially newcomers, to feel welcome: (Question 5b - Communal Life)

    Establish "Welcome Wagon" type organization to contact newly registered parishioners, set up home visits, and provide informational packets with welcoming letter from pastor, mass schedules, and list of educational opportunities and ministries. Ensure that newcomers are contacted immediately after registering.

    Host newcomers' gatherings such as brunches, potluck dinners, and home dinners with other parishioners.

    Invite visitors and newcomers to introduce themselves sometime during mass.

    Pair "new" parishioners with "old" ones to help acquaint them to parish life.

    Support strong hospitality ministry with greeters at every mass.

    Support neighborhood groups, particularly in large parishes or those geographically divided.

    Post pictures of new parishioners in the bulletin, on a board, or in the back of the church; put names in bulletin.

    Welcome new parishioners by offering them a loaf of bread or other symbolic gesture.

    Following registration, priest or staff member should initiate personal contact through telephone call or visit.

    Establish newcomers' group for first-year parishioners.

  17. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it celebrates sacramental reconciliation: (Question 2E - Liturgical Life)

    Provide more encouragement for the sacrament of reconciliation.

    Offer more communal reconciliation services.

    Consider general absolution as well as individual confession in communal reconciliation services.

    Make reconciliation more available, particularly before mass.

    Provide better understanding of current teaching of reconciliation for both clergy and laity.

    Place more emphasis on the importance of sin and provide a better understanding of sin.

    Schedule ongoing training for priests to be better confessors.

    Offer reconciliation services for targeted audiences such as families, engaged couples, children, teens, etc.

    Provide more than one priest to hear confessions.

    Create a better, more prayerful, physical environment for the sacrament of reconciliation.

  18. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps me make important moral decisions in my personal life at work or at home: (Question 3E - Moral Formation)

    Provide opportunities to increase awareness of conscience formation and methods of discernment in making moral decisions. Provide information on Ignatian discernment process.

    Offer homilies that invoke real-life examples, that connect Scriptures with daily life, and that expound on church teachings on moral issues.

    Ensure homilies are prophetic and help parishioners to understand how their personal decisions affect the well-being of other people in the world.

    Support small group faith-sharing opportunities.

    Encourage and provide opportunities for adult learning, including study of ethics.

    Support discussion groups or series to focus on the moral issues of everyday life.

    Provide guest speakers and workshops that connect church teachings and daily life.

    Make spiritual direction more available.

    Use parish newsletters and bulletin to provide moral instruction.

    Provide resources that explain Catholic perspective on moral issues.

  19. To help me live out my life as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improves . . . the way it supports and encourages laypersons to serve as members of parish staffs, Catholic schoolteachers, and other formal church ministry positions: (Question 3D - Moral Formation)

    Support and encourage lay people through competitive salaries and benefits to attract the most qualified applicants for all church ministry and teaching positions.

    Provide full-time positions, not part-time pay with full-time hours.

    Offer just retirement plans. Ensure that pension and other benefits are not lost as church ministers change positions.

    Provide a healthy and professional work environment with contemporary human resources policies. Give ministers the authority to do the job they are hired to do.

    Appreciate and acknowledge gifts of laypersons.

    Support social/economic justice within the church; we cannot call the world to be just if we are not.

    Provide financial support for ongoing formation and continuing and graduate education.

    Advertise availability of positions through pulpit and bulletin announcements and on website to encourage parishioners to apply.

    Provide tuition discounts for children of Catholic schoolteachers.

    Ensure job security for lay church ministers, particularly when a new pastor is appointed to a parish.

  20. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . its outreach and ministry to the poor, the hungry and/or the homeless: (Question 6C - Missionary Spirit)

    Provide counseling, mental health care, job training, housing, and employment in addition to food, clothing, and money.

    Establish and promote an ongoing, year-round social outreach program rather than just at holidays.

    Form parish social justice/concerns committee.

    Make formal commitment to social ministry through a percentage of Sunday collections, e.g., ten percent, rather than special collections.

    Adopt a twinning relationship with a reservation or an inner-city or rural parish as well as one in a developing country.

    Through catechesis and preaching, promote Catholic social teaching and Christian response to social justice.

    Educate parishioners on root systemic causes of social problems and work to address them through advocacy as well as by direct service; offer creative "learning experiences" such as a "hunger banquet."

    Adopt ecumenical approach: work with other faith communities to solve local problems.

    Support the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

    Advertise variety of social outreach opportunities; provide opportunities for families.

  21. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . opportunities and training for liturgical ministers (e.g., lectors, ministers to the homebound, hospitality ministers): (Question 2B - Liturgical Life)

    Provide both training for new ministers as well as refresher training for experienced ministers. Training should include liturgical significance and spiritual formation in addition to logistics of liturgical role.

    Offer opportunities for fellowship and ongoing formation including retreats, days of recollection, and prayer services.

    Instill sense of reverence and respect among all liturgical ministers.

    Schedule training sessions at various times of the year and at various times of the day to meet the needs of ministers.

    Provide small group training, particularly in larger parishes so that it is more personal and directed to the needs of the participants.

    Include women in liturgical roles in the parish.

    Consider the cultural needs and gifts of the ministers and of the parishioners; provide more African American, Hispanic, and other culturally sensitive types of training rather than strictly Euro-centric.

    Actively recruit new ministers rather than just advertising in bulletin or announcing at mass.

    Establish ministry to the sick and homebound. Initiate a "Good Samaritan" program in the parish whose mission is to identify those who are alone or sick and could benefit from a visit from someone in the parish.

    Consider needs of parishioners with disabilities in participating in ministries; many sanctuaries are inaccessible to those in wheelchairs or on crutches.

    Maintain high standards for all ministries.

  22. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . stewardship within the parish, by inviting parishioners to use their talents and gifts for the common good: (Question 5 - Communal Life)

    Offer annual time and talent survey and time and talent/ministry fair.

    Continuously inform parishioners of needs and opportunities and encourage participation. Make needs known through bulletin, newsletter, pulpit announcements, and notices on bulletin board.

    Host orientation sessions for new parishioners and match people's talents and gifts to needs of the parish; invite representatives from parish ministries to make presentations.

    Publish directory of parish ministries.

    Ensure that there is a follow up process to those who do volunteer.

    Establish and use talent database.

    Extend one-on-one personal invitations to parishioners.

    Recruit volunteer ministry coordinator.

    Educate people to see stewardship as more than just giving money; help them to see that involvement and commitment are essential.

    Provide short-term opportunities such as a one-day or one-time project.

  23. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it helps couples grow in their commitment to married life: (Question 6E - Missionary Spirit)

    Provide quality marriage preparation programs (Pre-Cana, Engaged Encounter, etc.); include a specific focus on interchurch and interfaith couples; offer mentor couples to assist the engaged couples as well as the newly-married.

    Offer retreats for married couples (a day, an evening, a weekend) either in the parish or away from it; always provide childcare.

    Promote Marriage Encounter, Teams of Our Lady, Christian Family Movement, Couples for Christ: these and other examples of more in-depth ministries, support groups, and communities for couples and families.

    Offer marriage counseling in connection with the parish.

    Celebrate wedding anniversaries, including renewal of vows, within parish liturgies at least annually.

    Organize "Nights Out" for couples -- provide childcare in parish while couples spend time together on a "date."

    Teach and preach about specific marriage/family questions, issues, and skills, including Natural Family Planning classes.

    Organize peer ministries by couples, e.g., marriage support groups. Include the chance for couples to offer their own witness to the marital vocation at liturgies and other gatherings.

    Provide pastoral care for troubled marriages (e.g., through Retrouvaille) and to those who are separated, divorced, remarried, and those seeking annulments.

    Provide specific outreach to newly-married couples -- a mix of social, spiritual and educational opportunities.

  24. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it evangelizes by helping parishioners to share the Good News with others: (Question 6A - Missionary Spirit)

    Form and train parish outreach and evangelization teams.

    Educate faithful on their baptismal call to evangelize; offer Sunday homilies exhorting parishioners how to evangelize by providing examples.

    Develop neighborhood outreach programs: through advertisements and announcements invite neighbors to attend parish events; arrange visits to sick and homebound neighbors; provide transportation for elderly and non-drivers; conduct "door-to-door" survey of neighborhood; host neighborhood dinners and picnics.

    Offer "bring a friend to church" opportunities.

    Offer intergenerational Vacation Bible School for neighborhood children, youth, and adults.

    Establish community ministries: develop feeding and clothing programs; form prison, hospital, nursing home, and youth ministries; identify and assist families with special needs.

    Increase presence in community by encouraging, promoting, and participating in community activities: identify local needs and establish volunteer teams to work on community projects; encourage participation in local events; provide informational tables at community events such as fairs; develop parish website.

    Encourage and participate in more ecumenical and interfaith opportunities such as prayer services and social justice opportunities.

    Reach out to inactive and returning Catholics: offer inquiry classes, open houses, and question and answer sessions.

    Offer a variety of adult faith formation opportunities such as Bible study, Disciples in Mission, and Renew, and a wider diversity of programs: parish missions, speakers, plays, concerts, and specialized classes.

  25. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important that my parish improve . . . how it promotes respect for life from conception to natural death: (Question 6F - Missionary Spirit)

    Sponsor a "Respect for Life" committee.

    Support consistent life ethic including abolishment of death penalty, support of anti-poverty policies, etc.

    Promote "seamless garment" philosophy in homilies and parish activities.

    Offer support for "crisis" pregnancies and battered women.

    Sponsor prayer and activities to support all life issues. Include issues of abortion and euthanasia.

    Educate and provide programs on issues pertaining to the elderly.

    Support programs to raise consciousness of death penalty.

    Provide materials to educate parishioners on church teachings on life issues.

    Offer natural family planning classes.

    Make available resources including contact persons and organizations for those in need.

  26. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve. . . the way it supports and encourages vocations to the priesthood and religious life: (Question 3C - Moral Formation)

    Offer opportunities to introduce young people to seminary and convent life.

    Invite priests and religious to address students in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs; support "Day of Shadowing";

    sponsor vocation fairs; invite seminarians and novices to speak and work in parishes.

    Study and discuss celibacy requirements within the priesthood.

    Recognize vocation of laity to church ministry so that all may live out their baptismal call.

    Highlight stories of priests and religious in diocesan newspapers and other publications.

    Help parents address the issue of encouraging their daughters and sons to have a vocation to church ministry when women are not allowed in ordained ministry.

    Promote opportunities where young people can get to know priests and religious.

    Sponsor regular prayer times for an increase in vocations.

    Address the concerns of parishioners who believe that the Spirit is calling us to look at new models of ministry including the ordination of women.

    Ensure that all seminaries and convents provide an environment which fosters the opportunity for the healthy development and growth of participants. This is important to both applicants and their parents.

  27. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it promotes opportunities for service: (Question 6B - Missionary Spirit)

    Identify parish and community needs: publicize parish needs and service opportunities in regular section of bulletin, newsletter, bulletin board, and website.

    Acknowledge contributions of those who volunteer: recognize volunteers to thank them for their service and to encourage others to participate.

    Offer a variety of service opportunities for all parish groups including children, youth, singles, couples, families, elderly, those with special needs, etc.

    Support "faith in action" through a variety of short-term and long-term service opportunities within the parish such as designated parish and community service days.

    Identify ways to involve more children and youth: offer children's service projects in parish school and faith formation programs so that service is an integral part of religious formation rather than linked to confirmation; sponsor alternative spring break and summer outreach programs for youth.

    Identify focal point in parish to coordinate service opportunities: establish parish "Social Concerns" or "Social Justice" committee; recruit paid or volunteer social justice/outreach minister.

    Publicize parish ministries and needs: offer ministry fairs, ministry week-ends and newcomers' orientation with representatives of all parish ministries.

    Conduct annual time and talent survey.

    Convey importance of service and social justice through homilies, catechesis, lectures, and testimonials.

    Establish twinning relationships with an inner-city parish.

  28. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve. . . how it encourages participation in parish planning, councils and committees: (Question 5D - Communal Life)

    Publicize and open all council, committee, and parish meetings to parishioners; provide agenda and minutes on a timely basis.

    Require an elected pastoral council in all parishes; in many parishes there is no pastoral council.
    Develop models of collaborative decision-making; provide training in collaborative leadership and ministry for parish leaders and staff.

    Educate parishioners as to what the different committees and councils do and invite participation, even as observers.

    Promote collaboration between parish leadership, including pastor, staff, parish council and finance council.

    Organize parish and finance councils to be fully active and effective instead of being a rubber stamp for the pastor.

    Encourage more participation from young adults.

    Regularly rotate membership and leadership of councils and committees to generate new and fresh ideas.

    Ensure that parish and finance councils have defined goals and objectives, engage in prayerful group discernment, and meet in regularly scheduled meetings.

    Ensure diversity in all councils and committees.

  29. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it affirms and promotes the cultural, racial and ethnic diversity of parishioners and parish leaders: (Question 5 - Communal Life)

    Recruit and encourage minorities for parish leadership, committees, and liturgical ministries so that ministries reflect the cultural, racial, and ethnic groups in parish.

    Establish a diversity committee to plan events and promote dialogue among different parish groups.

    Enculturate liturgy by introducing various ethnic rituals and images, offering diverse music, and inviting diverse homilists/presiders. Recreate "Encuentro" experience.

    Use liturgical celebrations such as Pentecost to promote diversity through participation of different ethnic groups and proclamation of parts of readings in different languages.

    Hold multicultural celebrations of dance, music, food, and traditions by sponsoring international dinners, parish heritage nights, ethnic feast days, and festivals.

    Adopt and promote cross-cultural exchanges with sister parishes: develop opportunities to work, socialize, pray, and problem-solve together in addition to offering financial support; provide transportation to enable parishioners to visit each other's parishes; for those parishes with little diversity, support twinning arrangement with another parish.

    Ensure diversity in religious education curriculum by promoting culturally diverse images, stories, and saints.

    Promote outreach to surrounding neighborhoods and communities: develop outreach programs to economically deprived areas/persons, offer service and advocacy opportunities, provide community picnics and block parties, and encourage evangelization of inner-city neighborhoods.

    Preach on and encourage attendance at parish and community events and functions such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observances.

    Develop cultural exchanges with other parishes as well as other traditions through exchanges of clergy, choir, and parishioners.

  30. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it prepares for and celebrates the following sacraments: Infant Baptism, First Penance, First Eucharist, Confirmation and/or Marriage: (Question 2F - Liturgical Life)

    Restore unity of sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist.

    Provide more opportunities for participation of parents in First Penance, Eucharist, and Confirmation preparation.

    Improve quality of marriage preparation programs: use professionals to improve formation; establish mentoring relationships between both older and younger married and engaged couples; and develop specialized programs for older engaged couples.

    Offer infant baptisms in presence of assembly at Sunday liturgies so entire community can welcome new member, but schedule them so that it does not resemble an "assembly line."

    Plan celebrations of sacraments within liturgical life of the community, i.e., during the times when the community is gathered for Sunday worship.

    Provide sacramental preparation programs for First Penance and First Eucharist in addition to and separate from ongoing religious education programs.

    Use opportunity of infant baptism preparation to evangelize young couples since many will be returning to the church. Preparation program should include more than just ritual. Offer ongoing family formation programs for new parents after baptism. Provide older parents as mentors.

    Provide trained catechists and facilitators for sacramental preparation; compensate them accordingly.

    Establish a reasonable age for adolescent confirmation and a consistent program, as the current diversity is confusing to families. Separate confirmation from religious education graduation and ensure that confirmation is not presented as an act of passage. Devise way to make a connection among the sacraments of initiation even though they are separated by time.

    Resolve confusion among parents over order of Sacraments of Penance and First Eucharist; explain rationale for diocesan and parish policies.

  31. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . leadership of the parish (both clergy and lay): (Question 5F- Communal Life)

    Train, support, and empower lay leadership: provide professional educational opportunities; offer diocesan programs in areas such as communication skills, conflict resolution, collaborative ministry, and leadership development; provide canonical and financial support.

    Expand role of women in the Church; encourage women in leadership roles; elicit their input as to how to incorporate and fully utilize their gifts and talents.

    Encourage and devise plan to involve all parishioners in ministry and leadership in some form. Emphasize the baptismal call of all believers to serve. Ensure that leadership reflects the composition of parish. Rotate people in leadership to involve new people and generate new ideas.

    Devise sound personnel policies and establish procedures to recruit well-trained, professional, and diverse staff; provide just wages, benefits, and support.

    Place laity in charge of business side of parish so that pastors can provide for pastoral ministry.

    Provide seminary and pre-pastorate training in areas including contemporary human resource management; business management; sensitivity training; group dynamics; team building; conflict resolution; diversity; and collaborative ministry, especially with women (both staff and parishioners).

    Develop a collaborative ministry between clergy and laity pertaining to parish needs, plans, and policies that withstand changes in clergy assignments.

    Recognize talents of laity from business or family life; give responsibility and accountability to laity. Empower lay leaders to use their gifts. Provide for occasional recognition of people for their service.

    Establish discernment process in assignment of pastors, including providing parishioners with a voice in the decision-making. Ensure that pastors are qualified and that their gifts and talents are matched to the specific needs of the parish community.

    Provide clear delineation of roles of pastor and parish council. Make parish council more accessible, including agendas and meeting schedules; ensure meetings are open to the parish. Provide more visibility of leaders so people know who they are.

  32. To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . its RCIA process (initiation of adults): (Question 2G - Liturgical Life)

    Parish community needs to take more responsibility in welcoming new members, not just the RCIA team, sponsors, and pastoral staff. Educate parishioners on the RCIA process and encourage them to become involved in inviting, welcoming, and integrating newcomers into parish life.

    Seek knowledgeable instructors who are skilled presenters; include testimonials from seasoned Catholics. Provide trained facilitators and offer ongoing formation at parish, deanery, and diocesan level.

    In addition to sponsors, establish a mentoring program. Mentors will enable more parishioners to become involved in some aspect of RCIA and provide personal contact with catechumens and candidates.

    Provide continuing support and guidance for first year so that new Catholics become fully integrated into the life of the parish.

    Develop more structured program; provide study materials, books, and resources; reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Include material on Catholic culture, devotions, and prayer.

    Develop family version so that children may be integrated in the process with their parents; need specialized programs for young adults, teens, and children.

    Open RCIA process to parishioners interested in topics presented.

    Need year-round process so that people may enter when they are ready rather than being told to wait for several months.

    Form RCIA teams so process is not dependent on one person.

    Provide stronger formation of sponsors.

    The following two questions are not in rank order. They were asked separately in order to invite lay people to address issues which may not have been covered in the 32 topic areas.

  33. What else could your parish do to help you better live your call as a Christian in the world? (Question 7A - General Questions)

    Provide more emphasis on spirituality by offering retreats, Scripture studies, days of recollection, discussion groups, and spiritual direction.

    Offer adult faith formation. Hire a professional Director of Adult Faith
    Formation to promote and organize the community's efforts to provide adult education and formation.

    Provide opportunities for better social outreach by identifying ways for direct involvement rather than just contributing money. Help create an awareness in all parishioners including the young of the social needs in the local community as well as in the larger world. Offer service projects for singles, families, and teens.

    Support lay ecclesial ministers by providing just salaries, benefits, and retirement.

    Seek solutions to the size of medium and large parishes which can be impersonal. Support small faith communities to strengthen
    communication and relationships between parishioners.

    Offer a comprehensive youth ministry program.

    Support programs and activities to meet the needs of all parishioners such as parents of young children, young adults, middle-aged singles, and seniors. Offer more intergenerational programs and activities.

    Promote more inter-parish activities for Catholics and others as a way of sharing programs and resources and as a way of evangelizing.

    Recognize the gifts and talents of women. Provide more leadership opportunities for women.

    Support more ecumenical programs including prayer and service projects that would bring other traditions together to enrich each other.

  34. What is the best thing that your parish is already doing that helps you live out your call as a Christian in the world?

    Provides a warm, friendly, and welcoming atmosphere. Its ministry of hospitality is welcoming and affirming of all. Parishioners are supportive of one another and are open to and accepting of each person's time, talent, and treasure. The parish is spirit-filled and fosters a real sense of community.

    Offers a tremendous program of community outreach thereby encouraging all parishioners to serve Christ in the community. Works with other congregations in area to provide ecumenical outreach.

    Provides healthy and effective leadership through the kindness, respect, and humility exhibited by a caring pastor who is visible, smiling, and eager to listen.

    Offers vibrant Sunday liturgies with relevant, thought-provoking, and enriching homilies and wonderful music with a good choir.

    Encourages lay leadership and participation. Promotes women's leadership.

    Celebrates the diversity of the congregation. Welcomes non-Catholic spouses.

    Provides excellent programs for children including religious education, Children's Liturgy of the Word, children's masses, Vacation Bible School, and parish school. Offers dynamic and inviting youth ministry program. Provides musical opportunities for children and youth.

    Supports catechists and facilitators with excellent training. Offers family faith formation programs and activities.

    Supports ministries for young adults such as "Theology on Tap."

    Offers wonderful programs for adults. Through full-time Director of Adult Faith Formation, new ideas and programs are formed.

    Offers numerous ministries and programs including Scripture studies, prayer groups, small faith-sharing groups, small Christian communities, RENEW, retreats, marriage enrichment programs, daily masses, twinning relationships, RCIA and RCIC, and pro-life. Provides resources through an up-to-date parish library and a great website. Is open to new suggestions and is willing to try new things.