Strategic Visioning & Synod


Diocese of Des Moines Synodal Synthesis

The Diocesan Synodal Synthesis was sent to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in late June with the approval of Bishop William Joensen. The report is written to fulfill two goals: 1) to outline what we discovered in our process to regional leadership in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas as well as the USCCB, and 2) to narrate our synodal/visioning journey to clergy, religious and laity who may not have participated in the visioning discussions.  The report showcases: our process, how the top ten themes arose, the four main pastoral challenges the Church of Southwest Iowa needs to lean into, many synodal statistics discovered, and our next steps for the Diocese of Des Moines.

Region IX Synodal Synthesis

A synodal synthesis representing the fifteen dioceses in Region IX (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas).  This report considers the common themes articulated throughout the Region IX dioceses and helps the reader identify pastoral needs that reach beyond the Church of Southwest Iowa. 


The idea

In February 2021, Bishop William Joensen began a weekly Holy Hour on Mondays at St. Ambrose Cathedral and encouraged pastors and parishes throughout the Des Moines to do so as well with a threefold purpose: To pray for an end to the pandemic, to renew Eucharistic faith and worship among God’s people, and to ask the Holy Spirit what direction the Diocese of Des Moines should follow in the coming months and years.

The process

In the summer, the Diocese of Des Moines engaged the services of Dan Ebener, of Quad City Leadership Consulting,  to help plan a visioning process from which a new strategic plan would evolve. Last fall, nearly 40 focus groups and many one-on-one meetings were held with the faithful and leadership across the 23 counties of central and southwest Iowa that comprise the Diocese of Des Moines to learn what we're doing well, what are the challenges and how we might grow in faith together. 

A Steering Committee has synthesized the many comments down to about 15 themes that surfaced. Bishop William Joensen invited the faithful in January 2022 to help rank the importance of these themes. Results will be released soon.


As the Diocese worked on an effort to really listen to the faithful, Pope Francis asked bishops to conduct a process of listening to the faithful for a synod. Each Diocese has taken a different approach. In the Diocese of Des Moines, it was decided that grassroots feedback for the strategic visioning process would also be used for the synod. Here's a story that explains how your feedback will be used both for determining the future direction of the Diocese and for the synod. By participating in the visioning survey, you're also participating in the synod.


Ebener submitted a proposed vision to Bishop Joensen with suggestions on how to proceed with strategic planning in order to carry out the vision for the Diocese of Des Moines.


Here is a prayer (in English and Spanish) asking for divine guidance on this visioning process. We invite all in the diocese to use this prayer. 


Bishop Joensen has written about the visioning process the Diocese is undertaking in his monthly column. 


For more information, contact, 515-237-5057.