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Hoping to make the Church better, one parish at a time

Organizers of the Amazing Parish Conference, being held in Denver this week, want every parish in the country—all 17,483 of them—to get engaged in the movement by attending one of their conferences.

Last August at the inaugural conference, they reached 115 parishes. This week, April 21-22 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, 100 more parishes will attend.

“We’ve got a lot of parishes to reach,” explained co-founder John Martin. “There’s a need to help parishes be better at what they do.”

Many parishes are “amazing already,” he clarified, however, some are static or declining in membership.

“We think with the right help, guidance and tools they can begin growing again,” he said.

The organization, a project of the Vine (Visions in the New Evangelization) Foundation can’t ask parishes to be amazing if they don’t put on an amazing conference, Martin continued, so they bring in renowned speakers who provide a “fruitful, warm and valuable” experience. Speakers include author and Amazing Parish co-founder Patrick Lencioni, Bible scholar Jeff Cavins, Catholic Leadership Institute president Matt Manion, Christian musician Matt Maher, “Rebuilt” author Father Michael White and “Divine Renovation” author Father James Mallon, among others.

Martin considers those two books, “Rebuilt” and “Divine Renovation” must-reads for pastors and parish staff.

“You can’t achieve a goal for your parish without knowing where you’re going,” he said, and the books are resources to help create a leadership team, which in turn, can establish a vision for the parish.

“Every parish is different, it’s not one-size-fits-all,” he said. “You can build a leadership team and vision, whatever your size and budget are.”

People must feel welcome at a parish and “that doesn’t cost money,” he said, adding it’s more of an attitude shift.

“Pastors can only do so much,” he added. “If the laity doesn’t step up and help in the mission of spreading the Gospel, it’s not going to happen.”

Parishioners must consider how they can help, not only through financial resources, but by offering their gifts and skills to the Church.

“We all have talents,” Martin said, “but most of us don’t offer them to the Church.”

To find out more about the Amazing Parish movement, visit www.amazingparish.org. The next conference is expected to be Aug. 11-12 at a venue to accommodate up to 175 parishes.

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