By Ryan Burchett
For The Catholic Messenger
Beginning this week, Bishop Thomas Zinkula invites parishioners in the Diocese of Davenport to offer feedback about their parish experiences via an online survey.
“We’ve been through a lot in the past year,” said Bishop Zinkula. “We want to listen and hear where parishes are at with things. We know that there are challenges, but also a renewed sense of hope. We’re excited for feedback that will help us take steps toward a brighter future.”
The “Rediscovering Sunday” survey is accessible on the Diocesan website (www.davenportdiocese/sunday) and is being shared by parishes with parishioners. Printable versions will be available at parish offices, but survey organizers urge participants to use the online form via computer or cell phone whenever possible.
“This survey is a tool to help us think about parish life as we come back from the pandemic,” said Diocesan Director of Evangelization, Patrick Schmadeke. “This is a time for us to be intentional about how we think about parish life and the values that are expressed by the sorts of programming, events and gatherings that we coordinate and facilitate. This isn’t a matter of simply going back to normal. It’s about discerning where the Holy Spirit is calling us today.”
The “Rediscovering Sunday” committee designed the anonymous survey to get broad feedback on what people appreciate most about their parishes and where they would like to see focus for growth. Diocesan-wide survey results will be published publicly. Parish-specific feedback will be provided privately to pastors and parish staff who can then share the results with parishioners.
“I hope that we can hear what the needs of the people are and find ways to respond to those needs,” said Father Thom Hennen, who co-chairs the Rediscovering Sunday committee. “There will be another creative process that will have to happen once we have the data in front of us. Once we see that, we can begin to ask, what programs might we offer? What initiatives would be good to start in the parishes? What diocesan support can we lend to help do that?”
Schmadeke encourages people to offer honest feedback. “In one’s own personal prayer life, the fruit of prayer begins by being honest with oneself and honest with God. Collectively as parish communities and as a diocesan community, this honest look in the mirror through the survey is equivalent to that. The fruits of the survey will be in proportion to the honesty that we bring to the survey, how willing we are to face whatever facts emerge from the survey results, and how we engage in dialogue as faith communities about next steps.”
The deadline to complete the survey is July 31. Diocesan households will receive a postcard encouraging people to complete the survey. Bishop Zinkula hopes this will be the first step in a sustained focus on how Sunday can impact every day of the week.
“Our faith lives are centered on the Eucharist as the source and summit,” said Bishop Zinkula. “Then we go out to live and share our faith. Whatever that looks like during the week, we bring it all back to Mass and are nourished again with the Eucharist and set on fire as the Spirit moves among us. In a spirit of hope and joy, we want to engage people in a conversation on their parish experience.”