Making Missionary Disciples


A Unified Process for Parish Renewal

A Pilot Program


“The New Evangelization calls us to announce the Gospel with enthusiasm and ardor in the circumstances of our day using the most effective methods available to us.
We are called to take up anew the mission that has always been part of the Church’s identity.” Bishop Cunningham, Year of Faith Pastoral Letter

What is Making Missionary Disciples?

Making Missionary Disciples is a unified approach for parish renewal. It begins with the question: How can we best serve the needs of parents/children/teens?

  • a) One Process: Sequential, systematic, and collaborative.
  • b) One Goal: Making Missionary Disciples
  • c) One Emphasis: Engaging parents

What is a Missionary Disciple?

“Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel (120)

How does it work?

Three diocesan offices work together, with a specific focus for each office:

Office of Evangelization - Parent Evangelization

  • i) Help parents to encounter Christ and form a personal relationship with Him
  • ii) Programs: Discovering Christ, Alpha

Office of Faith Formation – Faith Formation Grades K-6

  • i) Be My Disciples curriculum emphasizes learning and practicing the skills and habits, virtues and spiritual gifts that lead young disciples to higher levels of moral thinking.
  • ii) Ongoing catechesis of adults

Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry – Comprehensive Youth Ministry Grades 7 -12

  • i) Celebration of Confirmation in Grade 8
  • ii) Chosen Confirmation curriculum

Parishes use the same model, with an emphasis on parent involvement in each ministry.

  • a) Evangelization Coordinator: Parent evangelization (ChristLife or Alpha)
  • b) Catechetical leader: Grades K-6 (Be My Disciples)
  • c) Coordinator of Youth Ministry: Grades 7-12 (Comprehensive Youth Ministry, including Confirmation, Chosen)

What is the Timeline?

Preliminary Phase

  • Initial consultation: One on one meeting with every pastor to go over the parameters of the process.

Our commitment:

  1. Dedicated, continuous support to pastor and parish staff
  2. Training for parish leadership and for programming

Parish commitment:

  1. Key ministry leaders identified (Evangelization, Faith Formation, Youth Ministry)
  2. Agreement to all components of the process
  3. Willingness to work together on timeline and calendar scheduling
  4. Follow up meeting(s): Detailed presentation to pastor and key parish leadership
  5. Parish discernment: The parish then determined whether they would go forward as a pilot parish.
  6. This phase is completed in most parishes. All but one of the interested parishes is moving forward.

Implementation Phase

  1. Information meeting: Each pilot parish holds an information session. The pastor and/or pastoral team presents the process and invites active participation. Parishioners make a commitment to serve in one area of the process (Evangelization, Faith Formation, Youth Ministry). The diocesan team assists the parish in the preparation for this meeting.
  2. Calendar: According to a recent survey from our own Office of Family Life, time is the number one concern of families. The parish leadership sits down together to coordinate calendars in a way that best meets the need of families with children and youth.
  3. Programming: Begins according to the calendar. The diocesan offices provide training and support throughout the process

Implementation will occur over a 3 year period. Evaluation occurs throughout the process.

  • Quantitative assessments within curriculums
  • Qualitative assessments - parish experiences so far and in the future

 Which parishes will pilot the Making Missionary Disciples process?

Every parish who responded to Bishop’s invitation to participate in the pilot was considered.

Pilot Parishes
St. Stephen, Phoenix
Sacred Heart, Cicero
St. Theresa, New Berlin
Our Lady of Sorrows, Vestal
St. Vincent de Paul/Blessed Sacrament, Vestal
Most Holy Rosary, Syracuse (tentative)

“This pilot project will be an exciting venture, one that we hope will bear fruit in all of our parishes. I do realize it is a change but I think we all agree that our past models are not meeting the needs of today’s families. As Pope Francis has stated: ‘To be faithful, to be creative, we need to be able to change!’” Bishop Cunningham

 Download this information as a PDF by clicking here


Mary Hallman, Office of Evangelization - (315) 470-1429 
Andrea Slaven, Office of Faith Formation, (315) 470-1431
Robert Walters, Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, (315) 470-1419


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