A message from Bishop Iffert

“And so it is right that all your creatures serve you, all the redeemed praise you, and all your saints with one heart bless you.” (The Roman Missal, Common Preface III; emphasis added)

September 30, 2022

My Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great joy that I share with you today the beginning of a key pastoral initiative in the Diocese of Covington — With One Heart. The goal of this initiative is to embolden and equip the faithful — priests and the entire Body of Christ — to engage the mission of Jesus with united and determined energy.

Let me be clear, this IS NOT a process of retrenchment! Our intention is to turn to the Holy Spirit of God for guidance and to make the best possible use of the gifts God has given to this local Church. We are setting out to develop a vision we can share, establish goals for promoting holiness in our communities, develop leaders and marshal people and resources to pursue this sacred work diligently.

We will be assisted on this journey by the Catholic Leadership Institute. CLI is built on the belief that everything we have been given is a gift from God to be used in service, praise, and blessing of God’s name and God’s people. Their services are available to the Diocese of Covington through the generosity of a small number of benefactors who are leaders in business, education, military service, and more. The desire of these Catholic philanthropists is to develop the leadership potential that is already so obvious and valuable in our priests, deacons, consecrated religious, and dedicated lay leaders; to magnify the gifts that are at the service of the Gospel. I thank God for their initiative.

This process is already underway. Twenty-one skilled leaders from across the diocese have accepted invitations to core and planning committees that will work hand-in-hand with me and CLI. Firstly, we will continue our work of listening that began in the Process for a Synodal Church. We will use the input we received to help us listen, in a systematic way, for what is feeding your spirit in our parishes and agencies, as well as the hungers of the heart that are going unfulfilled. We will focus on how we assist one another toward a fuller life of discipleship.

We will use the data from this grassroots process to develop a strategic pastoral plan for the Diocese of Covington:
— We will help priests listen to their own passion for ministry and the needs of our people and provide coaching and formation with the goal of maximizing their leadership capacity.
— We will accompany parishes in developing their own pastoral plans and strategies for implementation.
— We will enlist the assistance of faithful Catholics across the diocese who have benefited from leadership and skill development in their own professional lives and invite them to contribute their time and abilities to the living mission of Jesus.
— We will connect these most valuable resources with the priests and parish leaders who can benefit from their experience. We will do all this and more for love of God and love of neighbor.

Very often I am asked about my vision for our local Church. My vision includes:
— That together we search for the most prudent and charitable way to do what is right and holy for the People of God.
— That we acknowledge God’s gifts and use them boldly for love of God and neighbor.
— That we pour out our lives not for a special interest, but for the common good and the growth of MANY in the way of discipleship to Jesus.
— That we embrace the gifts God has poured out with a generous hand and accept his call to be Christian witnesses in the world.
— That those of us who exercise authority in the Church do so with humility, recognizing that we are not the only ones God has called to mission.
— That we wash one another’s feet, not because we are weak, but precisely because Jesus is strong in us and strengthening each one of us.
— That we respond to St. Paul’s (patron of our Diocese) challenge to be bold for Christ.
— That we are blessed enough to live with one heart — the heart of Jesus Christ opened for love of the world.

Please keep this effort and your diocesan Church in your daily prayers. Join me in praying that the Lord make us strong in faith and poor in spirit, disciples after His own heart. Participate. Believe that growth and strengthening of the Church can happen. Be generous with your time and giftedness.

With a heart filled with love for you, I remain…

Yours in Christ,
+Bishop John Iffert
Diocese of Covington

WOH Programs: Empowering Priests. Igniting Parishes. Enlivening the Faithful.

Disciple Maker Index (DMI)

Now one of the largest research projects in the Catholic Church, with more than 500,000 responses, the DMI survey tool is changing the way Church leaders make decisions. It is an assessment of the spiritual health of a parish. The DMI measures, tracks and draws correlations that influence the spiritual development of a parish.

This 75-question survey provides pastors and parishes a picture of where they are today, allowing them to envision and create vibrant, faith-filled parishes for tomorrow.

Parishes and dioceses may utilize and retake the DMI on an ongoing basis to continuously provide opportunities to measure progress, to determine what is working, to identify areas that need further improvement, and to uncover new priorities to focus on.

Parishes in the Diocese of Covington will invited parishioners to complete a DMI during Lent 2023.

Called For More (CFM)

Called For More revolutionizes priestly care and fosters happier, healthier, and holier shepherds through:

— Priest Placement: using technology to better align priests’ gifts and skills with the needs of parish communities so that when it comes time for a new assignment they are placed strategically.

— Transition Plans: equipping pastors and their new parishes with individualized, long-term transition plans.

— Personalized Support: offering targeted roadmaps for self-care, mentorship, and professional development to support pastors.

Beginning in the Fall 2022 and continuing through 2023.

Next Generation Parish (NGP)

This endeavor is a four-year journey to renew parish life and accompany parishes into the future.  Next Generation Parish focus on discipleship, healthy organizational leadership, vibrant Sunday experiences, and evangelization.

This endeavor impacts every level of parish life via coaching, envisioning and implementation.  Through CLI’s early work, they have seen pews begin to fill, collections grow, pastoral and parish leadership refined, and communities strengthened. Coming late 2023 and into 2024.

Next Generation Diocese (NGD)

Due to the impact, importance and demand for Disciple Maker Index, Called For More, and Next Generation Parish, Next Generation Diocese is an intentional and comprehensive combination of each of these programs to transform a diocese, foster vibrant parishes, equip leaders, and forge the future of our faith. Coming late 2023.

Good Leaders, Good Shepherds (GLGS)

Using Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd as the ultimate model of leadership, Good Leaders, Good Shepherds is a world-class curriculum that celebrates and supports the ministry of Catholic priests.

Given the demands of ministry and the complexity of running parishes, effective leadership is paramount to creating and building authentic, vibrant Catholic communities. Good Leaders, Good Shepherds is designed to help priests overcome today’s challenges of a diminishing number of clergy and more complex circumstances for priestly ministry.

Through Good Leaders, Good Shepherds, priests can minimize the frustration and energy that they spend on their administrative roles, and instead, maximize the joy and time spent on the pastoral duties for which they were uniquely ordained. Ultimately, the impact of this formation is more holy, healthy, and happy shepherds of vibrant parish communities, leading more people to a deeper relationship with Christ.

Good Leaders, Good Shepherds is designed just for priests, so each learning module includes ample time for prayer, liturgy and building priestly fraternity. All sessions are highly interactive, pastoral, and relevant to the vocation of priestly life and day-to-day pastoring. Using priest/parish-based examples, and the best of Catholic tradition, the curriculum provides the skills and practices that will allow a priest to be a happy, holy, and healthy shepherd in any leadership circumstance

This signature formation curriculum supports priestly leadership and ministry.  Almost 3,000 priests across the country have received world class leadership training that better prepares them for self-leadership, parish leadership, and team leadership through a blend of training, tools, coaching, reflection, and fraternity. Good Leaders, Good Shepherds is coming to the Diocese of Covington in October 2023.

Parish Missionary Disciples (PMD)

This discipleship and evangelization training engages faithful parishioners and transforms them into missionary disciples who pray and teach others to pray, share the Gospel with another, share their own testimony, and accompany one another on their Catholic discipleship journey. Coming late 2024 and beyond.

Tending the Talents

Centered on Jesus’ model of leadership, Tending the Talents is designed to support parish and diocesan leaders in their unique role in ministry and to strengthen the talents God has given them so that they can be even more effective Catholic leaders. This formation curriculum complements the primary leadership skills and practices delivered in Good Leaders, Good Shepherds. It seeks to strengthen the overall quality of ministerial relationships and the ministries and priorities that are most important to the local parish and diocese.

Tending the Talents is a blended learning curriculum in which the experience is an integration of three types of learning:

— Online learning will help participants prepare for sessions as well as guide and support them in applying what they learned in previous sessions. The online dimension will accelerate the pace with which new knowledge is acquired and increase the retention and application of participants’ skills as Catholic leaders and disciples of Christ.

— Classroom sessions will be dynamic, interactive, and full of conversation and hope. Participants will join their peers in ministry to dive into leadership themes, share new insights and best practices, and apply new principles together.

— Leadership applications will support and guide participants in applying new learning within their parish or diocese. Participants and their pastors/directors will clarify visions, goals, and initiatives for their ministry and ensure that all efforts are aligned. These meetings will allow them to celebrate learning and reinforce a culture of Catholic leadership in their parish or diocese.

Coming late 2024 and beyond.

Upcoming Events

Beginning May 9 — Post DMI webinars

By participating in three webinars, pastors and parish leaders will learn how to access, understand and take action on the data collected through the Disciple Maker Index.

Fall 2023 — Diocesan Strategic Plan

Fall 2023

Bishop John Iffert and the With One Heart Planning Commission will unveil the Diocesan Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan will be based on information collected during the Parish Listening Sessions and Deanery Strategy Sessions, as well as information provided by parishioners through the Disciple Maker Index.