By Colleen Rowan WEST VIRGINIA—The Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is conducting a pastoral needs survey. With the title, “Let Your Voices be Heard,” the survey was spearheaded by the DPC’s Pastoral Concerns Subcommittee and invites the Catholic faithful to share their insights and opinions on meeting needs in the diocese. “We hope our people in the pews will take this opportunity and let their voices be heard on various topics,” said Gina Boggess, one of the eight members of the subcommittee. Once completed surveys are received, committee members will compile the information and present the overall results to Bishop Mark E. Brennan and the Diocesan Pastoral Council at the next scheduled meeting in October. The survey is available online and in paper form in both English and Spanish. To complete online, visit the diocese’s website at pastoral-needs-survey/. Boggess said that churches sent paper forms of the survey to their homebound parishioners and others. Paper forms of the survey are also available in churches, and parishioners can simply fill them out and place them in collection baskets at Masses or return them to parish offices. Boggess noted that most surveys are being completed by those over the age of 60, and that for the survey to be truly effective they must hear from youth and young adults as well. Boggess, who is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Princeton, said that after the results of the survey are in subcommittee members will explore, investigate, prioritize, and recommend future pastoral undertakings based on the needs and concerns of the Catholic population in West Virginia. “We also plan to share with priests a summary of the results from their church,” she went on to say. “We hope the results will provide valuable insight into the hearts and minds of their parishioners. In addition, the results can be used as a tool and guide by the priests and their pastoral council when planning and making decisions concerning those they serve.” Paul Buede of St. James the Greater Parish in Charles Town who also serves on the subcommittee, said members are excited to be part of a unique opportunity to provide a platform for the people of the diocese to share what has worked well in their parishes, what hasn’t or isn’t working well, and any other feedback. “It’s always good to know what works, but it’s also critical to understand the gaps, so our bishop and his team can better minister to our diocese,” Buede said. The diocese, he continued, has great diversity of many demographic factors, but also of spirituality. “We have people who feel more connected to Christ through more charismatic prayer and worship, but also those who are more connected to Christ through more traditional liturgy and prayer, and everything in between,” Buede said. “Part of the great difficulty, I imagine, for our shepherds, is trying to ensure that to the extent possible, people are engaged as much as they can be, but that all of this diversity stays licit, true to the faith, and truly spiritually beneficial. I know that is difficult, so helping paint that picture or draw that map can only help them in that mission.” At the same time, Buede said, different parts of the diocese and parishes struggle with different problems, “so it’s important to draw that map so the bishop can ensure his resources are best targeted to provide the support needed in the right places.” Serving with Boggess and Buede on the Pastoral Concerns Subcommittee are Linda Abrahamian of St. Joseph Parish in Martinsburg; James Archer of All Saints Parish in Bridgeport; Kevin Britt of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Moundsville; Denise Klug of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in New Martinsville; Colleen O’Brien of St. Michael Parish in Vienna; and Father Jeeson Stephan, MCBS, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in New Cumberland and Sacred Heart Parish in Chester. “Our primary focus is the relationship between the church and society,” Boggess said of the subcommittee. “This focus encompasses: building up the Catholic community, effective parish social outreach, ecumenism, evangelization, and the relationship between churches/vicariates and the diocese.” Before they could offer any suggestions or guidance to Bishop Brennan, Boggess said Pastoral Concerns Subcommittee members knew they first had to get feedback from the their fellow Catholics. “So, we decided to go straight to the source in the form of a survey,” she said, noting that they had consulted Bishop Brennan and Msgr. Eugene Ostrowski, V.G. “They were very open to the idea and expressed their desire to gain a better understanding of the faithful on specific issues as well as to identify the needs and concerns that our people have relating to the church and living out their Catholic faith,” she said. The subcommittee enlisted the help of the vicars, vicariate pastoral councils, church pastoral councils, and office staff to promote the survey through bulletin announcements, pulpit announcements, and informational e-mails. Boggess said that diocesan staff have been extremely helpful in constructing and promoting the digital survey. “I would personally like to acknowledge the Pastoral Concerns Committee for their hard work and dedication,” Boggess said. “Their love and passion for our church in West Virginia is inspiring! The Pastoral Concerns Committee would like to convey our gratitude to everyone who has helped with this endeavor! Thank you to each and every person who has completed the survey. We encourage those who have not completed the survey to please take a few minutes and let your voice be heard!”