Chaplain February 2024

Brother Knights,

A few years ago, I was enrolled in a Master’s program through the Catholic University of America which was focused on teaching business principles for parish life, including: budgeting, accounting, fundraising and crisis management. And one class was in strategic planning and operational management.

In the class we learned about how to conduct a strategic plan for a parish or diocese. I was finishing this class as Lent approached, and it occurred to me that we can make Lent something like a strategic plan for our lives. Strategic plans are used in businesses, schools and churches.

Anyone who has been involved in a strategic planning process knows that the first and most important part of it is the mission statement. This might sound strange for those who read mission statements because they are often terribly boring and saying almost nothing.

But think about how fundamentally important mission is for any organization. A mission distinguishes what an organization is. When an organization knows who they are, then they can start talking about what they do. A strategic plan can, then, lay out objectives for what they will do. They will set goals and measure those goals.

I was taught that an organization should have a new strategic plan about every 3 years.
Well, we are blessed as Catholics to have Lent once a year. And we can start with questions like: Who am I? What’s my mission? How do I live that out? What are my goals in life of discipleship.

I offer you some ideas to think about this plan for your life. We believe that God has called us to an eternal, intimate relationship with him, and that our deepest longings are achieved by God’s love working through me. Our whole lives are about growing in the virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Lent is a perfect time to reflect on this plan that began at our baptism and see what needs to change. The word Lent means “spring.” It’s a fitting description because the Spring is about growth. The grass becomes green again, flowers bloom, things become more beautiful.

This is a good way to direct our Lent. It’s a personal springtime. But, we don’t often think of Lent in this way. We may think of it as a torture chamber, or going on Catholic diet for 40 days, then back to the old ways.

Perhaps this is where it’s helpful for us to think about Lent as a strategic plan for my life. We look at the big picture of our relationships with God. Obviously, we are all in different places. We are at different parts of our journey. And so in this upcoming season of Lent, we ask the Lord to give us a sense of personal mission and the grace to know how we might carry out that mission.

Sincerely in Christ,
Father Kipper