“We started getting calls” about data consultations, Laughery said. “The focus was primarily the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was an organic growth into inquiries into education and training.”
Bishops and religious orders outside of the archdiocese, he said, began requesting their consultation services.
“We keep getting more and more calls,” he said. “Rather, a bishop talks to another bishop, a vicar general talks to another vicar general, a prior talks to a prior.”
Laughery said the firm’s data consultants, under the brand of PartnersEdge, specialize in “finance and operations.”
“We’re not faith formation, we’re not evangelization,” he said. “Our expertise is in temporal goods, and in using data to make decision-making.”
Laughery said their consultation approach begins with an assessment of a diocese’s current status and its trajectory.
“We’re trying to help a bishop and their team understand, ‘What is?’ What is our current state? And then help them envision, and invite the Holy Spirit into, the work of understanding: What are we called to? What ought to be?”
“We take them through a facilitated process to get from what is to what ought to be,” he said. “That starts with the data.”
Areas of analysis include priests, financials, sacraments, giving trends, and demographic trends. In some cases a review finds a demographic growth within the local Catholic population, Laughery said; in others there has been a net emigration.
PartnersEdge says on its website that its mission is to help Catholic institutions realize “an improved position of financial strength and security so that they may freely and faithfully fulfill their mission through their various ministries.”
Laughery said the response has been positive. One bishop, he said, described the process as “helping us to develop the new wineskins in which we are going to pour new wine.”
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The whole initiative, Laughery said, helps diocesan officials in “understanding the environment in which you’ve lived, the data that’s informing this lived experience, and what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do.”
All of it, he noted, is meant “to let Jesus be known and loved in this particular situation we find ourselves in.”