Fr. Wayne Cavalier, O.P. and I traveled to the Diocese of Sacramento from March 18 to 22 for an onsite visit with the purpose of gathering information related to their needs for lay leadership formation. We first had an interview with Bishop Jaime Soto who reaffirmed his intention to develop a comprehensive strategic plan of formation for lay ministers. He thanked us for our help in facilitating the Inventory assessment of formation programs, and for our upcoming final proposal for the comprehensive strategic formation plan for lay ministry.
We interviewed different stake holder groups of ordained and lay ministers, English and Spanish speakers, youth and adults. The interviews were made face to face or through video conferencing, some in Sacramento and others in the rural northern part of the diocese. The interviews in Sacramento included: the Presbyteral Council, Department of Evangelization and Catechesis, Diocesan Pastoral Council, participants of the Instituto Hispano, Pastoral Formation Advisory Council, English and Spanish-speaking Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, Youth and Young adult English speaking leadership, Diocesan Media Team, Catholic Professionals and Business people, the Diocesan Black Council, Asian Groups and the Filipino Apostolate. We traveled to the northern part of the Diocese which is mostly a rural area to interview Pastors and Lay Ministers in Spanish and in English.
We were pleasantly surprised to find an enthusiastic lay diocesan community wanting to participate in our interview sessions. They shared with us their “hunger” and that of their faith communities to prepare in faith formation to serve the Church with enthusiasm in the variety of ministries. The leadership team, lay and ordained, led by the Bishop, showed us their disposition to serve in the midst of limited financial resources, as well as limited formed human resources, large distances, and great diversity. The local hospitality, planning and organization for our visit, allowed us to do our work effectively and successfully. After further research on a variety of fronts, we expect to have a final report for the diocesan leadership on July 1. Our visit to the diocese of Sacramento once again confirmed for us the need for the mission of the Congar Institute.