The Diocese of Burlington will be partnering with Catholic Leadership Institute to help parishes become more vibrant.

Representatives of CLI began working with parishes after the conclusion of the Diocesan Synod and are giving parishes the opportunity to reflect on their vibrancy and discipleship. They are working with parish leaders to implement the synod’s focus on vibrant parishes.

Dan Cellucci, the organization’s CEO, said CLI will help support the synod priority of vibrant parishes. But that means taking into account the other two synod priorities: evangelization and effective communication, both of which he called “hallmarks of vibrant parishes.”

CLI considers four elements when defining a vibrant parish:

+ Spiritual maturity and growth of parishioners. This is an opportunity to help parishioners — who are in different stages of spiritual growth — move forward on their discipleship journey.

+ A shared culture of leadership. This relates to the pastor’s engagement and collaboration with lay leaders in the parish and the lay leaders’ collaboration with one another. It also relates to the parish’s vision and direction for the future.

+ Celebration of the Sunday Eucharist with excellence. “We put as much as we can into those celebrations because obviously the Eucharist is so important,” Cellucci said. “And that is where the bulk of people come together.” This element relates to such things as preaching and hospitality and looks to the future to help Sunday worship be the best it can be.

+ Missionary impulse. This element deals with the understanding of a parish’s responsibility to care for those that attend Sunday Masses and to search for those who do not come. That, Cellucci said, means being “evangelical witnesses.” Here CLI will help parishioners build their confidence and skills to be “front line evangelizers in the community,” he added.

CLI — based in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — is offering parishes a survey on parish vibrancy, orientation and training sessions and assistance with action plans.

Cellucci said the Diocese of Burlington is “making the investment” to work with CLI at a cost of $2,000-$3,000 per parish; the Diocese is covering the cost.

Catholic Leadership Institute provides bishops, priests, religious, deacons and lay persons in the Roman Catholic Church with pastoral leadership formation and consulting services that strengthen their confidence and competence in ministry, enabling them to articulate a vision for their local church, to call forth the gifts of those they lead and to create more vibrant faith communities rooted in Jesus Christ.

Catholic Leadership Institute partners with Dioceses, parishes and lay organizations throughout the United States including in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Diocese of Bridgeport, the Diocese of Fall River, the Diocese of Ogdensburg, the Diocese of Providence and the Diocese of Portland.

Portland Bishop Robert P. Deeley is quoted on the CLI website: “Every experience that Catholic Leadership Institute provides is focused on how the community and the individual leader can thrive. Their expertise is unique and special in the Catholic Church, and it is of great value as we look toward a future that is full of hope and also full of change.”

CLI was founded in 1991 by Catholic businessman Tim Flanagan with the vision “that God’s gift to us is our potential, and what we do with it is our gift back to God.”

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—Originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.