Previously I had posted on m Fr Tim Finigan excellent homily about what true success of a parish entails. One of my readers in response had emailed me about their diocese recently requiring mission statements for each parish and what I thought of them.
I believe that Mission and Vision statements originally came out of the world of Total Quality Management (TQM) of which I am fairly familiar since the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) championed this Japanese-style management system created originally by American W. Edwards Deming. I can’t say I have ever been much of a fan of Mission and Vision statements since they normally really do nothing.
In theory though a parish picking a Mission Statement could be useful, but I can’t ever remembering seeing one on a parish website that really quantified a parish’s mission. For one all parishes have exactly the same mission to spread the Gospel and to help parishioners get to heaven. Too often these statements start off with phrases like "An inclusive faith community open to …", typical progressive boilerplate.
Now instead of just picking apart many silly Mission Statements it might be useful to dwell on what might be some good guidelines. For one I think they should be short and easy to remember and be connected with our true ends. A eschatology oriented Mission Statement reminding us of the last things would be a good starting point. Ideally they should be like the answers in the Baltimore Catechism or the wonderful new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For example I think this would be a good Mission Statement:
To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.
Of course the Great Commsion would also be a good place to start:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
This one by Saint Therese would be pretty good.
"You cannot be half a saint, you must be a whole saint or no saint at all."
Saint Joan of Arc also has a great mission statement for all of us:
"If I am not, may God put me there, and if I am, may God so keep me! I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I was not in His grace."
Or this one by French novelist Leon Bloy:
"The only tragedy in life is not to be a saint."
These of course are always good.
- Love God with all your heart, soul, and your strength and your neighbor as yourself
- Jesus must increase, I must decrease
- I believe, help my unbelief
Now as you would expect here are some less serious ones:
- The personal call to holiness: don’t hang up
- Eternity is a long time (this one was helpful in Robert Novak’s conversion)
- The Catholic Church – not just for Sundays
- Sanctifying grace: don’t leave life without it
- Don’t let your first words after judgment be "Boy is it hot here."
What do you think would be some good Mission Statements?