A letter from Bishop James P. Powers

June 2024


As I begin the update on the diocesan planning process, I want to very sincerely thank each and every one of you who has shared your gift of time and talent making the sacrifices you had to in order to participate in our planning process thus far. We are calling our diocesan planning process “Recalibrating for Mission.” Over the winter, hundreds of leaders from the parish clusters of the diocese gathered for two rounds of deanery meetings. This spring, representatives from all of the parish clusters in the diocese came together in Rice Lake for a final gathering of sharing ideas and concerns. Once again, thank you for the sacrifices you made to be part of this very important process of looking into the future of the Diocese of Superior.

In the time since these gatherings, our Diocesan Planning Committee, which includes diocesan staff and senior pastors, has been processing the information gathered. Beginning in June, our committee will be taking all of the data and information available to us, bringing it before the Lord in Eucharistic adoration and prayer and laying out an initial plan.

Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis wrote:

“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 27)

I pray that our diocesan-level planning and the planning happening at the parish level is a genuine manifestation of that dream. There is much to be done and much that will take time to prayerfully consider, deliberate and enact.

I humbly ask that you cover this crucial work in your prayers. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build.” May we pursue his will with freedom, courage and perseverance.

With Easter joy,

Bishop James P. Powers


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the diocese asking parishes to do right now?

The main thing is to stay engaged and get even more engaged in the Maintenance to Mission initiative. Prayerfully put together your parish evangelization team. Pursue deep formation and prayer together in the church’s mission using our broad array of resources.

Look at the data of what is happening demographically in your parishes and project what will happen in five to 10 years. Discuss with parishioners and key leaders: What needs to be improved structurally? Keeping our resources in good shape is good stewardship that allows us to pursue our mission. Please do not make any major changes to Mass schedules at this time without consulting the diocese, as changes to current clustering may occur.

Are there any hard and fast criteria the diocese is insisting on us moving toward?

At this time, nothing beyond Canon Law and our diocesan policy is being insisted upon.

How is the content from the parish discussions and Winter 2023-24 deanery meetings being utilized in the diocesan planning process?

The gathered input from those gatherings gave Bishop Powers and the planning committee a very good sense of what is uppermost in peoples’ minds and hearts. That information and those sentiments are very much being held in mind during the planning process.

What are the goals of the diocesan planning process?

The ultimate aim of the process is to advance the mission of evangelization and missionary discipleship. It is vital at this time to begin the process of restructuring our resources so that mission can be pursued in a lasting and healthy way without unduly burning out leaders or stretching resources too thin so that the quality of our efforts is lacking.

How does the diocesan planning process differ from and correlate with the Maintenance to Mission initiative?

The simple goal of the Maintenance to Mission initiative is to cast a vision for a diocesan church on mission. Through it, we are endeavoring to form diocesan leaders and the lay faithful alike for the twin vocations to holiness and mission that are the calling of all the baptized.

The purpose of the diocesan planning work, which we have called “Recalibrating for Mission,” is to assess the current life and structure of every entity within the diocese through the lens of mission and to decide if/how it should be maintained or changed in light of mission.

In many ways, this is a far more difficult task. After all, nothing happens in the life of a parish without someone’s investment (time, money, emotion, etc.). Thus, to do this work of discernment requires a tremendous deal of good will, trust and confidence in a clearly defined vision for the parish’s move from maintenance to mission. Without this, the detachment required for change will be lacking and the changes that are needed, painful. With this, however, we will be free to allow the Lord to usher us into the changes needed to thrive in the next generation.