Dear Friends in Christ,
I invite you to join me in prayer to the Holy Spirit during the coming months as we undertake a process of planning for the future of parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha. The plan that we develop together will touch all of us and will help shape the way we live, learn and worship together across the archdiocese.
Why is a comprehensive planning process needed now? After much consultation in recent years, we have articulated a hopeful pastoral vision for our archdiocese. We have set an ambitious goal for our parishes to become missional (outward looking) communities within the coming years. Now we see more clearly the need to realign our beloved institutions to better serve present and future needs, to assist us in becoming the people the Lord calls us to be for our neighbors and for the next generation.
This much we know: The Church in northeast Nebraska faces challenges posed by shifting population, changing cultural attitudes and fewer clergy. Since 2003, Mass attendance in the archdiocese has declined by 42%. Nebraska’s population is becoming more concentrated in a few counties, and the population of many rural counties continues to decline. In 2018 there were 126 active archdiocesan priests serving here. In 2032, the number will be 84.
While recent efforts at pastoral planning have been helpful, we realize that something significant is needed now, in order for us to fulfill the Lord’s desire that we live as his disciples and share the joy of the gospel with others in the years to come.
Soon you will receive more information about how we will move forward on this Journey of Faith. Our process will be transparent and consultative, led by clergy and parish leaders. Our goal is to promote flourishing Catholic communities by renewing and aligning all of our people, resources and activities to serve the mission of Jesus Christ.
We can be confident of the love of the Lord for us at this moment. He desires our good, that we flourish in the Church he has established. We approach this Journey of Faith with prayer, asking Jesus to reveal his plan and to bless us with all we need in our time to do his will.
With best wishes and prayers, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend George J. Lucas
Archbishop of Omaha