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‘Amazing’ parishes pray hard, work smart

After attending the Amazing Parish Conference in Denver last spring, Chris Arth is looking forward to praying more and doing less in his parish this year.

“The Amazing Parish Conference was a great reminder that sometimes you have to clean out the closets and get rid of things you don’t use anymore,” said Arth, “or in this instance, programs or activities that consume resources and do not support our mission.”

Arth, who has worked in parish ministry for 15 years, currently serves as the parish administrator at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, Kan. He attended the Amazing Parish Conference in April as a member of his parish leadership team, during which the group participated in sessions that emphasized the importance of aligning parish activities with an overall strategy and vision.

A third Amazing Parish Conference will be held Aug. 11-12 at the Marriott Denver Tech Center. Speakers include author and Amazing Parish co-founder Patrick Lencioni, Bible scholar Jeff Cavins, Catholic Leadership Institute president Matt Manion, Christian musician Matt Maher and “Rebuilt” author Father Michael White, among others.

Joe Ferdani, pastoral council member at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Northglenn told Denver Catholic that the Amazing Parish Conference helped his pastor, Father James Spahn, to begin developing a parish vision and plan for creating missionary disciples.

“This conference allows you to step outside your comfort zone and truly assess the health of your parish,” Ferdani said. “You identify where you’re doing well, where you’re struggling and what God is calling you to do right now to transform your parish.”

“It starts with asking the question: ‘What makes our parish community unique?’ In other words, when you look at the community your parish serves, what do you see? From there, you build your plan,” he added.

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Parishes are required to bring a team of 3-5 leaders, including their pastor. Organizers of the Amazing Parish movement want nothing less than to engage every single parish in the country.

“Our goal is to build a national movement so that every parish that wants to be amazing will know there is a community of other parishes who want the same thing,” said Lencioni. “We are seeing a tremendous hunger among pastors and parish leaders from across the United States.”

According to Ferdani, parishes face numerous daily demands, “and it can be easy to fall into maintaining what you have rather than focusing on how you can move your parish from good to great.”

He said the Amazing Parish Conference “gives you the framework for accomplishing this most important work. It starts with an amazing team that supports and trusts one another, a clear vision, and a commitment to prayer.”

Arth said the conference re-invigorated his team, and offered help that was “meaningful, practical and informational.” For example, Arth noted that as a parish they are now taking steps to be “more ‘radically’ hospitable,” but first and foremost, they are making sure all their efforts are grounded in prayer.

“As a result of Amazing Parish, we are praying more together as a staff,” he said. “Seems basic, but we have taken it to heart. It is what separates us from a corporate staff.”

To find out more about the Amazing Parish movement, visit www.amazingparish.org. Financial assistance is available through the Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado.

Participants at the first Amazing Parish Conference in Denver.
Participants at the first Amazing Parish Conference in Denver. Photo by Nissa LaPoint/Denver Catholic

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