Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish in St. Charles is using every method it can find to get the word out about the Disciple Maker Index survey as part of the archdiocese’s All Things New strategic pastoral planning initiative.
Using social media posts, bulletin announcements, talking to parents face-to-face at parent-teacher conferences, and even a student-made poster on display in the parking lot at school pickup, the parish said it’s seen a successful return rate so far, with more than 50 percent of their target goal of 1,000 completed surveys.
“We’ve tried to humanize the entire All Things New experience,” said Becki Feldmann, a parent volunteer and member of the parish’s leadership team for All Things New. “There’s a lot that we don’t know about the future, but what we do know is that we love Sts. Joachim and Ann.”
Since the launch of the Disciple Maker Index survey on Ash Wednesday, March 2, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has received nearly 40,000 completed surveys as of March 14. The multi-choice survey, which will be available through April 4, is a quantitative look at each respondent’s personal beliefs about the Church, level of participation in the sacraments and other parish-based activities and experience of the parish. Survey results will give the archdiocese a clearer picture of the needs of the local Church.
The archdiocese has a goal of receiving 100,000 completed surveys, which is reflective of the number of Catholics who attend Mass on a regular basis, said Father Christopher Martin, vicar for strategic planning. Each survey respondent is asked to identify their parish; those who regularly attend multiple parishes may choose to complete a survey for each parish. Catholics who are not affiliated with a parish may select unaffiliated as their choice.
“So far we feel we have done a good job capturing a large portion of people who attend Mass regularly,” he said. “We’re still striving to hear from as many people in the archdiocese as possible.”
One of the major points of feedback Father Martin said the archdiocese has received is that the survey doesn’t allow for open-ended commenting. There are plans for the archdiocese to offer a qualitative survey this summer; however, Father Martin said he doesn’t want that to dissuade anyone from completing the Disciple Maker Index.
“Good discernment requires information,” he said. “So if we’re going to discern what the future should look like, the Disciple Maker Index and demographics (for each parish) will provide the information for parishioners to discern where to go next. That’s why there’s no ‘comment box’ yet.”
Father Martin noted that the planning process is dynamic, meaning that adjustments are being made in response to ongoing feedback from Catholics as they participate in the process. For example, plans are in the works to offer a separate survey related to Catholic education, aimed at adults affiliated with Catholic schools and Parish Schools of Religion, such as parents, teachers and catechists. Other archdiocesan groups, such as CYC Sports, have been identified to help promote participation in the Disciple Maker Index survey.
Additionally, 372 listening sessions will be held at parishes across the archdiocese in October and November 2022. The sessions are expected to include proposed models for the future structure of the archdiocese.
Each pastor has been asked to assemble a team of five key parish leaders to help guide the discussions at the parish level. Each team will be provided a workbook and conversation guide to help process feedback from the Disciple Maker Index survey and steer discussions toward the greatest needs for evangelization and social outreach.
Many parishes, including Sts. Joachim and Ann, have been taking steps to make the survey as convenient as possible for all to participate in. Feldmann said they have placed small cards in the pews with a QR code link and invited people over to school after Mass to use the computers to take the survey online.
“We really want to help our parishioners understand that they have a voice to share and to share how special our community is,” said Feldmann. “When you walk into the doors of Sts. Joachim and Ann, you feel something different. And we want them to share why that is so special. We don’t have all of the answers, but I feel like we have a community of people who are pulling in the same direction for the good of each other and the good of our community.”
>> All Things New
To learn more about All Things New, the archdiocese’s strategic pastoral planning initiative, and access the Disciple Maker Index survey, visit allthingsnew.archstl.org.