Archdiocese seeks feedback from parishioners about their faith life

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

On Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, archdiocesan parishes will roll out the Disciple Makers Index Survey to all parishioners with the goal of learning where parishioners are in their faith journeys and how the local church can help them grow in that faith.

People can access the 75-question survey, which organizers say should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, through a QR code. Paper copies will also be available at parishes. The survey closes on March 31, before the start of Holy Week.

Priests will take a Priests Leadership Inventory Survey at the same time. 

“This is an opportunity for us, working with Catholic Leadership Institute, to do a great assessment in our parishes of two things: give parishioners an opportunity to reflect on their own spiritual growth and to provide feedback on the efforts of the parish to help them grow,” said James Klein, senior advisor to the archdiocese, who is helping to coordinate the effort.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is part of a pilot project that includes 15 other dioceses across the country. Funding comes from Lilly Endowment Inc.

“It gives us a great opportunity to assess where we’re at,” Klein said. “The timing is such that it’s very good for us coming out of COVID, coming out of Renew My Church restructuring and how to best move forward in the context of Renew My Church.”

Participants can remain anonymous and surveys are available in 19 languages. Parishes will receive results in early June, along with training on how to understand the information, determine next steps and communicate the results to the parish.

“One of the great things about this, it not only gives parishes the opportunity to look at themselves, but it also provides a real benchmarking opportunity versus other parishes,” Klein said. “You can cut it by demographic groups within your parish. … This survey has now been taken by a million Catholics in the United States, so we have a great opportunity to benchmark against others and other parishes.”

The Priests Leadership Inventory will help priests and archdiocesan leaders with priest development and formation.

“For our priests, we have four strategies there — ongoing formation and development, more planful priest placement process, hoping priests will develop a growth plan, opportunity for coaching and mentoring,” Klein said. “As far as the Disciples Makers Index, as well, it helps each parish have a greater understanding of hearing the voices of their parishioners as we continue to revitalize our parishes.”

The archdiocese plans to conduct the survey every few years, he said.

“It will give us an opportunity over time to see how we are developing our parishes,” he said.

Father Ken Simpson, a retired pastor and former vicar for professional and pastoral development of priests, said the information that will be gathered through the priests’ survey will benefit the whole archdiocese.

“We’ve always had this desire to develop a good database, a good baseline understanding of just who our priests are and to record that in a way that the priests themselves could contribute to it,” said Simpson.

The archdiocese has also wanted a view into how effective parishes are at making disciples.

“The archdiocese learned that many other dioceses were thinking of the same thing, and Catholic Leadership Institute, which helped in the discernment and decisions process of Renew My Church, has been working on these very same ideas with a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.,” Simpson said.

Parishes often do surveys, said Simpson, but they can be more surface-level, such as asking people what time they want Mass to be. But the point of the Disciple Makers Index is to learn how people are practicing their faith and how the parish can better support them in developing that relationship with God.

“The real point of Renew My Church is evangelization, is making disciples. So you’ll have a baseline and you’ll have something to work on. You can make a plan from some data,” he said. “And, of course, the archdiocese will have a sense of that too: How many people actually going to church understand the faith, and are acting out of that faith? Speaking as a pastor, I found it immensely helpful to actually have a number, a snapshot of what’s actually happening, what are people’s attitudes, what are their practices,” Simpson said.

To connect to your parish’s survey, visit



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