Indicators of Vitality
“It [the parish] has an indispensable mission of great contemporary
importance: to create the basic community of the Christian people;
to initiate and gather the people in the accustomed expression
of liturgical life; to conserve and renew the faith in the people of today;
to serve as the school for teaching the salvific message of Christ; to put solidarity in practice and work the humble charity of good and brotherly works”
(Pope Paul VI, Address to Roman Clergy, AAS, 55).
In Service of the New Evangelization
The Indicators of Vitality is a self-assessment tool that assists pastors and parishioners in clarifying current needs and strategically planning for full and active participation in the mission of the New Evangelization. The indicators address five core areas of parish life:
Worship: The heart of parish life is the celebration of the Eucharist. From the Eucharist flows all of the worship, prayer and faith formation of the parish. This indicator examines the vitality of the parish’s liturgical life.
Education: Forming the lay faithful for mission depends on a variety of educational programs. Assessing the parish’s ability to provide education and faith formation to parishioners of all ages is the focus of this indicator.
Community: Building community begins with hospitality. Vitality is found in a parish’s ability to make all members feel at home and to open wide the doors of the parish to welcome inactive Catholics and all who seek a relationship with the Lord.
Service: This dimension of parish life assesses the ways in which the parish calls parishioners to serve all those in need. It evaluates the parish’s commitment to bring the Gospel to bear on the issues of the day in a way that supports the mission of the Church.
Administration: The ability to carry out the mission of the Church depends on strong leadership. In this area, staffing, management of parish resources and decision-making processes are evaluated.
The Assessment Process
- Using the archdiocesan survey as a guide, develop a survey inviting parishioners to assess the strengths of parish life and identifies opportunities for growth and development
- Distribute the surveys across the parish and invite people to complete the survey
- Invite the parish pastoral council and parish leaders together to review the results of the survey and propose short (six months-one year) and long-term (not more than two years) goals in response to survey results
- Share the proposed goals with the parish at large and ask the parish to identify priorities based on the proposals
- Consider making the Indicators of Vitality part of the planning responsibility of the parish pastoral council
Develop a plan to meet the short and long term goals and appoint a task group of two-three people to oversee the implementation of the plan
Read Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision, A Pastoral Letter on The New Evangelization to the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Archdiocese of Washington by Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Indicators of Vitality Archdiocesan Staff
Dr. Susan Timoney, Assistant Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns
Manuel Aliaga, Director of Hispanic Pastoral Affairs
Mary Hamm, Director of Hispanic Family Life and Leadership Development
Rev. Richard Kramer, Director of Family Life and Leadership Development
Deacon Al Turner, Director of Office of Black Catholics
Contact Dr. Susan Timoney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-853-4558 to begin the assessment process in your parish.
Pastoral Planning Resources
- 2013 Guidelines for Parish Councils (grayscale version)
- Archdiocese of Washington Indicators of Vitality User's Guide
- Disciples Called to Witness
"As a pastor I have witnessed myself the work of the Holy Spirit in the growth of my parish community through this process. Newly arrived in the parish, I welcomed parishioners to meet and together made the self-assessment. We broke into groups and began to set goals. The goals were simple: more community events that were multi-generational, develop an evangelization committee, strengthen adult faith formation. The Indicators of Vitality worked. St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill has grown from a parish of 770 families to nearly 1,400 in just a few years." Read more from Rev. William Byrne about the Indicators of Vitality at work in his parish.