DPC Agenda Full of Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
June 14, 2018
DIOCESE—Saying goodbye and reflecting on the past topped the agenda for the Diocesan Pastoral Council during its regular quarterly meeting, June 9. But also on the agenda were hellos to new leadership followed by more goodbyes as some councilors concluded their terms of office.
The June meeting marked the last for DPC executive secretary Dr. Michael Cieslak, who, at the direction of the late Bishop Thomas G. Doran, formed the council in 1994. 
Cieslak officially retired from his work as the director of research and planning for the Diocese of Rockford on June 1 but his last official act was to attend the DPC meeting with his successor, Kevin Fuss.
As the new executive secretary Fuss led the meeting where the councilors were formally introduced to him, and he in turn told a little about himself. 
Cieslak reflected on some of the highs and lows of his work for the diocese along with looking back on the work and important advice provided by the DPC.
Cieslak recounted the task of taking Mass counts in the diocese and how the trends here reflect the overall trends of attendance and commitment in the United States. He also pointed out that the work done on profiles of Parish Vitality in the Rockford Diocese now serve as a model both in and outside the U.S.
“Demographics have always been a challenge,” Cieslak told the council. 
“We have gone from a time when we worried about having to secure sufficient land to build churches to worrying about having enough people to fill the churches we have. People are not having children, and that will continue to be a challenge,” he said. 
He added that the demographics shift will have an impact on all aspects of society, not just religious organizations.
Cieslak also talked about the Parish Consultation Process, Ministry Day and the effects of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. 
Through it all he said, outstanding for him was the “great talent, common faith and purpose” that has been the hallmark quality of members of the DPC during his tenure. 
Bishop David Malloy also took the opportunity to acknowledge Cieslak’s contributions, welcome his successor and to thank the council as a whole for its work.
“I am so thankful to Mike for his many contributions, even before my time as bishop, and to this group. The conversations here are very valuable to me as bishop,” he said. 
Besides saying goodbye and hello to the old and new executive secretaries of the DPC, councilors also said goodbye to three members, Deacon Howard Fischer, representing Permanet deacons; Marsha Pospischil of the Freeport Deanery and Mark Peterson, representing the Rockford Deanery. The three have completed their terms of service on the council.  
Elections were held during the meeting for the new chair and co-chair. Taking over as chair will be Heather Dunaway, representing young adults, and co-chair will be Julieta Jacobo, representing lay professionals. 
The council heard an update on the Faith Forward strategic planning process for Catholic schools in the diocese.
They also heard a brief update on Ministry Day for 2018, an event for parish staffs. It will be held on Oct. 4 at St. Mary Parish in Huntley and address the topic of what parishes can do for evangelization.
Councilors were provided with a report on the results of the V Encuentro meeting held recently in the diocese in preparation for the larger national gathering in Dallas later this year. Bishop Malloy discussed some of the highlights of the report and heard comments on overall Hispanic ministry from DPC members.
Closing out the meeting was a discussion on the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to include girls in all levels of scouting and to change its name to Scouts BSA as of next February.
New representatives will be needed on the Diocesan Pastoral Council. Watch upcoming issues of The Observer for information on open seats and how to be considered for service.