The annual Amazing Parish Conference to be held in Denver this spring aims to address struggles that nearly all parishes have, and offer tools, ideas and programs to address them—allowing parishes to make their communities even “more amazing.”
“There are some struggles that are common to 99 percent of parishes, and the seminar went right after them all,” explained Father John Paul Leyba, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster, who attended last year’s inaugural conference. “Not just identifying them, but offering some simple, practical and attainable short-term options and great long-term goals.”
Those universal challenges, he said, generally include things like not having enough money and space, as well as how to foster an environment where parishioners are aware of each other; seek out strangers and welcome them without judgment; encourage parishioners to “go deeper” in relationship with Christ and be “intentional disciples,” invite others to come to church; recruit volunteers out of inspiration not obligation; and understand how to handle inquiries from people interested in joining the Church.
After attending the conference, under Father Leyba’s leadership, the parish introduced two formation events for parents of children preparing for confirmation, started RCIA classes earlier in the fall, and launched a referral system to help engage people interested in joining the Church with existing formation programs such as bible studies, That Man Is You, Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (Endow), and the Augustine Institute’s video-based catechesis, Symbolon.
“I was totally impressed, inspired and energized,” Father Leyba said. “With so much passion dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel, the nation could actually be re-evangelized and won for Jesus Christ!”
More than 450 participants filled last year’s conference to capacity, according to organizers. Registration is now open for the 2015 conference that will be held April 21-22 at Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.
Keynote talks, workshops, presentations and interactive forums related to parish vision and teamwork will be delivered by returning and new speakers including author and leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni, biblical scholar Jeff Cavins, president of the Catholic Leadership Institute Matt Manion, vicar general of the Carmelite Sisters Sister Regina Marie Gorman, Fellowship of Catholic University Students founder Curtis Martin, Walking With Purpose founder Lisa Brenninkmeyer, and authors Father Michael White and Father James Mallon.
“I was very encouraged by the remarkable generosity of those who sponsored the event and those who donated their time to speak,” Father Leyba said. “They really care about the real world struggles of everyday priests and parishes.”
Parishes interested in participating are encouraged to bring teams of three to five people to the conference, and pastor attendance is required. Representatives may include paid staff such as business managers and youth ministers, and volunteers such as parish council members.
“Most important is that you send people who are leaders who will use what they learn from the conference to take action to transform your parish,” according to the conference website www.amazingparish.org.
The conference fee that covers the sessions and meals for five people, is $1,000. Scholarships are available.
Amazing Parish Conference
www.amazingparish.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
7 traits of an amazing parish
1. Reliance on prayer
2. A real leadership team
3. A clear vision
4. The Sunday experience
5. Compelling formation
6. Small group discipleship
7. Missionary zeal