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September 15, 2015

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Marlene Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
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Email: mmulford@dio.org

Bishop Provides Guiding Principles for Church Growth in New Pastoral Letter

“Ars crescendi in Dei gratia” Issued Today throughout Catholic Diocese

SPRINGFIELD — Bishop Thomas John Paprocki today issued his second pastoral letter, Ars crescendo in Dei gratia. “The art of growing in God’s grace is the key to growth in the Church.  Building a culture of growth in the Church starts with inviting people to experience the love of Jesus Christ,“ said Bishop Paprocki in his introduction to the pastoral letter. He calls on members of the clergy, consecrated men and women and the faithful to join him in building a culture of growth throughout the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

“In my homilies delivered during parish visits, I often quote noted businessman Richard C. Notebaert who said ‘if you are not growing, you are either stagnant or moving backward,’” said Bishop Paprocki. “This applies to the Church as much as it does to the world of business. Unfortunately, many of our parishes appear to be either stagnant or moving backwards.”

Ars crescendi in Dei gratia examines the results of the Benedictine University survey commissioned by the bishop that identified some of the factors that have caused central Illinois Catholics to leave their parish or even leave the Church.  Unwilling to compromise his beliefs, Bishop Paprocki, in Ars crescendo in Dei gratia, clearly states, “Sometimes, in fact, we, as members of the Church, stand for virtues and principles that are contrary to popular culture and that challenge the self-centered paths and comfortable ways of the world.”

In Ars crescendi in Dei gratia, Bishop Paprocki examines 21st century concepts of becoming a proactive participant of the Church, or as author and lecturer Sherry Weddell calls the process, Forming Intentional Disciples, the title of her book in which she identifies five thresholds, or stages, that an individual passes through in their journey from unbelief to intentional discipleship. Merging discipleship with good stewardship is illustrated by the success enjoyed by the Diocese of Wichita, eminent thinkers and scholars like Father Robert Spitzer, S.J. who challenges both priest and parishioner to achieve what his nationally-renowned institute calls the four levels of happiness, achievable only by the intervention of the Holy Spirit to direct one’s way.

Ars crescendo in Dei gratia will be distributed to diocesan pastors at their annual convocation held this week in Godfrey. In addition the pastoral letter will be included in parishioners’ mailed copy of the Sept. 20 issue of Catholic Times and online at www.dio.org.