This summer, St. Vincent de Paul parish in Cobleskill held a group of "listening sessions" after a Saturday-evening vigil Mass to get parishioners' input on parish events, plans and projects for the new fiscal year.
That's not a unique idea, said parish life director Sister Connie James, SND. Some parishes hold similar sessions they call "town meetings." St. Vincent's held a slate of listening sessions a decade ago.
The sessions are a way for the pastoral council to hear from parishioners what's working at St. Vincent's, what needs aren't being met and what ideas they may have for changes, Sister Connie said.
The sessions were divided into four areas: parish activities; prayer and worship; Christian service; and faith formation, youth ministry and sacramental preparation. High school students were invited to attend the latter session along with the adults.
"It's very simple," Sister Connie told The Evangelist.
About a quarter of the 350-family parish community attended. Many were parishioners already active on committees and the pastoral council. But the PLD noted that, as people come and go from the parish, "needs change; wants change," so it's important to ask for fresh ideas.
Some of the suggestions that came out of the sessions were for more parish dinners, a dinner dance, adult faith formation opportunities and service activities for young people.
Sister Connie plans to bring the list back to the parish soon and point out that new events need new volunteers.
"We can do anything on any list, but they've got to help," she said.