I just returned from doing a Baptism at St. Ann Parish in Marietta, Georgia, a parish run by the LaSalette Fathers. It is an amazing place and is practically the home of Life Teen on the East coast. They have three full time priests and one retired priest in residence as well as four deacons.
The parish staff has a lay administrator, someone in charge of adult faith formation as well as a religious education director. It also is staffed by a business manager, facilities manager, bookkeeper, as well as someone for the 14 page bulletin who also takes care of multimedia. The music director is nationally known and there is also a parish nurse on staff. Holding it all together are an office manager, a receptionist, and parish secretary! Every time I come down I ask myself, “How do they finance all this?” The answer is that the collections are huge!
Nonetheless, I would not trade our situation for theirs. As I told you last week, we have received the results from the Disciple Maker Index taken by 394 parishioners. The results are very encouraging. In seven areas we scored above the national average in a statistically significant way. Those areas are:
- Parish helps spiritual growth
- Growth via: Mass
- Growth via: Sharing one’s personal story
- Growth via: Forming as disciple
- Community – welcoming
- Growth via: Preaching.
Of those seven areas we were highest above the national average in: welcoming, recommending parish, and the parish supporting spiritual growth.
The one area where we were lower than the national average, but not in a statistically significant way, was – Belief in Scripture as the Word of God. I was surprised by this. It does, however, give us a good insight in where we need to focus pastoral planning.
St Ann in Marietta is a great parish, but so are we!