Parish Needs Assessment Process:
Update to the Parishioners - Week 1 (Part 1 of 4)
To the members of the Parish Community of St. Kevin’s:
Over the next few weeks, the Parish Needs Assessment Team will be presenting to the parishioners the results of the Survey we completed last April, as well as the plans for the Parish to move forward based on those survey results.
This week it would be most beneficial to review the process that the Parishes in Welland have completed thus far, in order for you to understand both the history of the process and why so much time has elapsed before a report was presented to the Parish.
A Quick Review of the Process:
The Bishop approached each Parish in Welland and asked that we enter into a Parish Needs Assessment Process. The Pastor of each Parish was asked to then form a Parish Needs Assessment Committee. Ours consisted of 8 members.
The team met with committees from the other Welland Parishes and the Diocesan Leadership Team, and all were led through a session that informed us how the process was going to work.
We were sent back to our Parishes to build our Parish Story, which we did in February of 2015.
Summaries of the Parish Story were then carried back to the next Diocesan meeting and each Parish presented their experience of Parish Story sharing.
The next step was the Parish Needs Survey. We completed the survey as a Parish in April of 2015, and we sent them to the diocesan office to be compiled.
In the fall of 2015, we returned to receive our survey results and an explanation of how and why the results were returned to us in the format given.
Our committee was then responsible for looking over the results of the survey and preparing a report for November. This report focused on our strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement. (see report)
Each Pastor was instructed at this meeting to form a team of 3 people, including the Pastor, to begin the process of implementing a plan to address those areas of Parish life we need to work on. This team met with the teams from the other Welland parishes and the Diocesan Team on December 12, 2015. At that time each parish presented a report for their future plans. (see report)
The reports for the meetings held in November and December may be accessed in PDF format on our website, www.stkevin.on.ca The complete survey results report will also be posted in PDF format on the website later in the presentation process.
We are very fortunate at St. Kevin’s, to find ourselves with excellent Pastoral leadership and we are financially able to continue as a vibrant faith community in Welland. This does not mean that there is not work to be done. As you can see from the document we presented at the December 12th meeting, our plan is to address:
Providing the parish with a summary of the survey results.
An examination of Ministry Needs and providing parishioners with information about our ministries and opportunities to volunteer.
The expansion of Youth Ministry focused on Family, Youth, and Children.
Please follow the bulletin over the course of the next three weeks for detailed results and plans.
Update to the Parishioners - Week 2 (Part 2 of 4)
As part of the Parish Needs Assessment Process, the Parish Needs Survey was conducted in all parishes in Welland. St. Kevin’s Parish participated in this survey; it was distributed in the pews at all weekend Masses on April 11 and 12, 2015. In all, there were 757 valid completed surveys from our Parish. The characteristics of the respondents, as well as major findings are described below.
Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
More than three in five respondents are female. The average age of respondents is 63 years, with an age range between 16 to 95 years (*only those 16 and over were invited to complete the survey). Two in three respondents are 60 years of age or older. Nearly seven in ten respondents are married or remarried. For respondents’ highest level of education, more than three in five respondents went beyond high school to college or university, one in five respondents completed high school, and less than one in five respondents completed some high school or less.
Activities of Respondents in the Parish
Nine in ten respondents are registered at St. Kevin and nearly all respondents indicate that this parish is their primary place of worship. Respondents have been attending this parish on average for 26 years, with length of attendance ranging from 1 year or less to 69 years. Nearly two in three respondents attend Mass every week or more often. More than one in four attends Mass almost every week. More than one in three respondents is involved in one or more ministries or activities. More than three in five respondents are not involved in any ministries or activities with the parish.
Major Findings can be summarized as follows:
Aspects of Parish Life
Respondents were asked to provide three things they like best about St. Kevin Parish. The responses were grouped into categories of similar content. The top three categories are as follows. The first focused on the strong sense of community, meaning that they viewed the Parish community as friendly, warm and inviting, with a feeling of belonging and sense of family. Secondly, respondents liked many aspects of our liturgies including the quality of Mass, homilies, the music and choir. The third most frequent set of responses focused on the Pastor and Priests. They were described as friendly, warm, knowledgeable, approachable and humorous.
Nearly all respondents evaluated the quality of liturgies, the quality of music, and the liturgical decorations and environment as “good” or “excellent.”
More than four in five respondents evaluated the leadership provided by the pastor as “excellent.”
More than nine in ten respondents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that they would feel comfortable talking with the Pastor.
Four in five respondents evaluated the service provided by Priests and Deacons as “excellent.”
Nearly all respondents evaluated the parish’s commitment to social justice as “good” or “excellent.”
More than nine in ten respondents evaluated as “good” or “excellent”:
opportunities for spiritual growth
spreading the Gospel/evangelizing
encouragement to share your time, talents and treasure
Two in three (66%) evaluated the vision provided by parish leaders as “excellent.”
Update to the Parishioners - Week 3 (Part 3 of 4)
Faith / Spiritual Development
- More than two in three respondents evaluate as “excellent” parish efforts to:
- nurture your relationship with Jesus Christ
- educate parishioners in the faith
- More than nine in ten respondents evaluate as “good” or “excellent”
- children’s liturgy
- faith formation for adults
- youth ministry
- More than nine in ten respondents evaluate as “good” or “excellent” parish efforts to:
- foster spiritual growth
- meet people’s spiritual needs
- help you practice gospel values in your daily life
- offer a Catholic view on current issues
Sense of Community and Parish Involvement
- More than nine in ten respondents evaluate a sense of community within the parish “good” or “excellent”.
- More than three in five respondents evaluate as “excellent” parish efforts to:
- manage parish finances
- communicate with parishioners
- More than nine in ten respondents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that they feel well informed about what goes on in the parish and that they feel included in parish life.
- Nine in ten respondents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that:
- parishioners are encouraged to give input to decisions in the parish
- they feel adequately informed about parish finances
- More than two in three evaluate outreach to and advocacy for those in need or distress as “excellent”.
- Two in three respondents evaluate parish outreach to those sick or homebound as “excellent”.
- More than nine in ten respondents evaluate as “good” or “excellent” parish outreach to:
- those grieving
- those in financial need
- married couples
- new parishioners
- The top three priority groups for parish outreach are youth (ages 13 to 17), young adults, and families.
Summary of Top Three Responses for “Like Best about the Parish”:
1. Strong Sense of Community is the category with the most frequent responses. Many respondents simply stated “the parishioners” as what they like best and many others talked about them as being very friendly, approachable, warm, and inviting. Also, many respondents talked about the parish as having a “welcoming atmosphere” and that there is a sense of belonging. One respondent said “It's one big loving family with Our Lord at the head of the table.” Some respondents stated that they like best “the openness” and “inclusion of all”. Several mentioned about the “spirit” of the parish and one respondent said the “mood of the parish is hospitable and alive.”
2. The second category of similar responses focused on the Liturgy and Spiritual Life. The quality of Mass was mentioned by several respondents and some commented on “the spirituality of the Mass,” “the solemnity,” and one respondent said “liturgies - well planned and profound” and another “very meaningful.” Many respondents like best the homilies and some described these as “always inspiring,” “helpful in understanding the scriptures,” and “relate to life outside church.” The music and choir were also mentioned by many respondents. Music was described as uplifting and inspirational, and one respondent described “the beautiful voices expressing prayer through our choir.” Some like best children’s liturgy, Taizé services and the variety of Mass times offered.
3. The Pastor and Priests was the third most frequent set of responses. Many respondents talked about them as being friendly, warm, welcoming, humorous, and approachable and “demonstrate genuine care.” One respondent stated: “the priests are very helpful and readily available if you need to talk over any concerns.” Several respondents commented on the “strong leadership” of the Pastor and priests. Some respondents commented on how the priests are knowledgeable and one added that they are “informed about Catholic, personal modern issues.” One respondent likes best “our priests who are instructional but non-judgmental and who are very encouraging.” Another described our clergy as “our priests who do not hesitate to teach us and help us understand Jesus.”
Update to the Parishioners - Week 4 (Part 4 of 4)
Opportunities for Improvement
- Respondents were asked to provide the three greatest challenges or needs facing St. Kevin Parish. The responses were grouped into categories of similar content. The top three categories are as follows. The first most frequent challenge or need relates to young people including youth, children, young families and young adults. Some respondents spoke about them not attending Mass, and others talked about engaging and involving young people in the activities of the parish. The second most frequent challenge or need is outreach. This focuses on helping the poor and feeding the hungry, and also reaching out to seniors, widows, single parents, single adults, and those alienated and marginalized. The third category was the issue of attendance, specifically our dwindling participation and an aging population. Some expressed the need to attract or invite new parishioners and to bring back those who have left.
- Three in ten respondents evaluate parish outreach as “fair” or “poor” for inactive Catholics.
- More than four in five respondents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that they want to volunteer more for the parish.
Summary of Top Three Responses for “Greatest Challenges or Needs Facing the Parish”:
1. The category with the most frequent comments focuses Young People including Youth, Children, Young Families and Young Adults. Many respondents commented generally about young people without specifying ages. They noted that there are “not a lot of young parishioners” and that there is a need for “getting more young people to attend and get involved with the parish and community.” The same concerns apply to our youth – “getting teenagers into the church,” “engaging our youth” and reaching out to them. One respondent spoke about the need for “involving youth in liturgy” and another suggested “establishing a youth Mass.” Several respondents talked about children, families and young adults, especially the need to draw them in and get them involved in parish life.
2. The second category for greatest challenges or needs is Outreach. Some respondents talked about the increased poverty in the area and others commented on situations of homelessness and unemployment. Respondents expressed a strong concern for the poor and the challenge to “keep meeting needs of the poor.” There is an overwhelming concern for raising “more money for the poor” and for “feeding the less advantaged.” Some respondents commented on the need to continue to or give more support to several resources of help such as St. Vincent de Paul, Food Bank, Harvest Kitchen and Out of the Cold. As one respondent stated, there is need for “supporting all the causes.” Many respondents also commented on outreach to seniors, those who are widowed, single parents, and single adults. Others expressed the need to reach out to those alienated, marginalized, and who are sick.
3. The third category with the most frequent set of responses is Attendance. Much of the concern was about lack of or dwindling attendance at Mass on a regular basis. This concern was also expressed in terms of the aging population of the parish with some elderly being ill or unable to attend church. Several respondents talked about inactive Catholics. One respondent focused on “finding a way to bring back/attract Catholics in the community who no longer attend Mass,” and another stated “I would like to see more people come back to the church to renew their faith.” Some respondents commented on the need for more parishioners and this was expressed by one respondent as the need for “new parishioners - growth as community ages.” One respondent noted the challenge ahead as “maintaining a sufficient number of parishioners to sustain the parish.”
To see the full 31 page survey results please tap here (It is in pdf format)