Co-Responsibility and Community
KPC Case Study: Ascension Catholic Church
As the Synod on Synodality is underway at the diocesan level, (read more about that, here), many parishes are looking toward what embracing co-responsibility in parish and ministry work looks like. Embracing this can be a challenge, especially if a parish or pastor is used to a more formalized style of leadership headed by a cleric.
One of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Ascension Catholic Church in Chesterfield, is making a conscious move to help embrace co-responsibility both through its Commission structure for ministry work, and through one of the pastor’s key priorities: Empower the Laity. KP Consulting had the opportunity to work with the Ascension team throughout 2021 to help define the brand and set a communications plan for 2022.
Communications manager Katie Sullivan took the lead in helping organize a plan to reactivate each of the Commissions following the closures and uncertainty during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Katie’s background in management, with course work in marketing, put her in a unique position to apply her sales experience to the parish.
“The Commission structure was about three years old, and many people in the parish were still getting used to the new system when COVID hit,” Katie explained. “Some ministries had been operating for fifteen or twenty years here, but were just getting used to being part of the Commission. Within this structure, each ministry is aligned under a Commission Pillar, where they report to and receive information from a Commission Head who helps keep the ministries and programs aligned with the parish’s overarching mission, and the pastor’s priorities.
In October of 2021, the Commission Heads gathered for a one-day “Ascension Assembly” in which they were among the first to hear pastor Fr. Tom Molini’s vision for the future of the parish. In it, he outlined four priorities. Next, the Commissions broke out into sessions and aligned each of their programs for 2022 with one of the four pillars.
“We’ve seen great growth from each of the Commissions, and having a new process and a new plan makes it easy to plan promotions on social media. Having a clear, shared set of expectations for what is posted, where, can really help people take ownership of their mission and message.” Katie says.
Together, the lay leaders, staff and clergy at Ascension Catholic Church are helping to define and demonstrate what co-responsibility can look like in a parish community.