Project Fidelium to strengthen growing Catholic community in Orange County

By Douglas Morino     7/6/2018

A comprehensive strategy is being crafted to strengthen Catholic culture in Orange County and propel the growth of the Diocese of Orange far into the future.

The Diocese’s strategic plan, called Project Fidelium, comes as the dedication of Christ Cathedral approaches and Catholic parishes in Orange County continue to welcome new parishioners.

Christ Cathedral is undergoing an extensive renovation of its interior and will be dedicated on July 17, 2019.

The cathedral campus in Garden Grove will be the spiritual home for Orange County’s 1.5 million Catholics, making the Diocese of Orange the 12th largest Diocese in the U.S.

Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange, created the initial framework for Project Fidelium in 2016, the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Orange.

“Our Diocese began a careful period of discernment about the future of our Church and how best to ensure we are prepared to meet the current and future needs of the faithful,” Bishop Vann said. “We as a family of faith are blessed with growth, vibrancy and the gift of the Holy Spirit. However, our Church faces challenges in caring for our growing flock, meeting the needs of a diverse population, and shining the light of Christ within an ever darkening culture.”

The name Project Fidelium stems from Bishop Vann’s episcopal motto: In fide et deleccione in Christo Iesu: In the Faith and Love in Christ Jesus.

“I felt Project Fidelium an apt name for this effort – focused on faith and the faithful of our Diocese,” he added.

The initiative is a proactive and trailblazing approach empowering diocesan leadership to tackle organizational challenges and setting a clear path forward for the Catholic community in Orange County. For decades, the Diocese’s continued growth led to challenges common to large organizations with thousands of stakeholders spread across a large and diverse geographical area – a lack of a unified vision, unplanned decision making and limited interdepartmental cooperation.

Project Fidelium seeks to remedy those issues by creating and communicating a unified vision across the Diocese, empowering front-line decision makers and increasing collaboration between the Pastoral Center and its 56 parishes.

“Our vision is to establish and support dynamic, vibrant parishes and schools that welcome all to live the Gospel with faith, joy, charity and unity,” said Most Rev. Timothy Freyer, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange, who is overseeing Project Fidelium. “We are working collaboratively with humility, gentleness and patience, while maintaining our unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace, to ensure our Diocese and parishes continue to serve our growing and dynamic community of faith.”

Project Fidelium is built on input from staff across the Diocese. The initiative includes a Strategic Plan Working Group, chaired by Bishop Freyer and composed of advisory committees focusing on governance, stewardship, evangelization and faith formation.

The committees met through late 2017 and early 2018 and are made up of various experts from throughout the Diocese. The bishops have not attended these meetings so that the committees can be as bold and creative as possible in forming their recommendations.

The committees’ final reports, with action recommendations, are expected this month. From there, a comprehensive strategic plan will be developed and implemented.

The initiative will strengthen the Diocese’s ability to help Catholics across Orange County participate in the liturgy, receive God’s grace in the sacraments and serve the afflicted with respect, compassion, justice and generosity.

“Our Diocese encourages each person to have an active life of faith that is integrated and woven into the fabric of their daily lives through the community and sacramental life of the Church,” Bishop Freyer said.

Short-term objectives include improving governance at the Pastoral Center and building strong partnerships between Diocesan leadership and parishes. Long-term objectives include improving evangelization, faith formation and financial stewardship.

Project Fidelium projects are already underway. In January, the Diocese partnered with St. John Seminary in Camarillo to offer courses toward a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. The partnership allows Diocesan priests to further their studies, facilitating better unity between local clergy and laity. This unity will strengthen evangelization and faith formation efforts.