Pastoral Planning resources for priests

Thank you for all you are doing to inform, inspire, and lead your people during this time of pastoral planning. This page has been established to provide an up-to-date place where you will find the information and materials you need in order to carry out your responsibilities in this planning process.

Autumn 2021 Materials

Beacons of Light Communications Materials

*Current Reality Meeting Recording: The Current Reality report was presented at a meeting of priests on June 4 and recorded during a virtual meeting on June 21. The recording is linked here.

Within the presentation, you will find the Current Reality data presented in a number of ways such as lists, tables, graphs and maps.  There are 2 levels or views of maps.  One is at the archdiocesan level and the other focuses on a city, Cincinnati and Dayton respectively.  These maps are grouped together throughout the presentation. Not all parishes are indicated on every map.  All parishes are represented on one of the two levels.  The Cincinnati and Dayton level maps are provided to allow more differentiations between closely located city parishes.

Questions You Have Asked

Implementation of Beacons of Light and the formation of 50-60 Families of Parishes will take place on July 1, 2022. 

Yes. However, we must acknowledge that “one size will not fit all” and that it will take some Families more or less time than others. Families will create a pastoral plan for the coming years, which will include the expectation that the Family shows evidence of progress on specific elements, such as unifying/allocating staff, bringing councils together, adjusting Mass times as needed, etc. The anticipated deadline for completion is July 1, 2027, at which time the Family will be one parish. Families that require longer to complete the process will submit a request for approval by the archbishop.

No. This method has been tried in other dioceses and been generally accepted as bringing forth a negative morale for both priests and the faithful. 

Some. Given the configuration of 50-60 Families of Parishes – each with one pastor – there will be fewer pastors at the implementation of Beacons of Light. The Families of Parishes reconfiguration will precipitate the need for some new parish assignments for current pastors, but the expectation is also that some pastors may remain in their current parish with additional parishes in their new Family. In addition, the expectation is that some pastors may remain at their current parish in a new role as senior priest. For parochial vicars, the reconfiguration may allow for some parochial vicars to remain at their current parish.

No. This is one of the key differences between what has been common practice in pastoral regions and what is envisioned in Families of Parishes.

Every Family of Parishes when implemented will have one common pastor. At the conclusion of Beacons of Light, the Family of Parishes, having become a single parish will have one pastor.

There is much work that must be accomplished in-between meetings. In fact, we are moving much more quickly through the stages of this process than most dioceses. Ample time for our consultants to work and for discussions and discernment must be allocated in order to ensure that all feedback, input, and ramifications of discussions are taken into consideration as Families are discerned.

Families of Parishes will create a pastoral plan that addresses the six guiding principles, in conformity with the established planning parameters. A Pastoral Planning Pathway will guide the development of this plan. The Pathway will map out the steps each Family will take to come together as a faith community. It will include incremental milestones to help the Family move toward becoming one parish. Resources, training, and support will be provided to pastors and their leadership transition teams as they follow the Pathway, create and implement the pastoral plan for their Family of Parishes.

The third principle of Beacons of Light – Leadership – states that “pastors, in collaboration with parochial vicars, deacons and lay ministers, according to their proper roles and charisms, share responsibility for pastoral leadership.” In other words, an underlying value in Beacons is that of co-responsibility among pastors and their people. Models will be developed for ensuring substantive lay participation with the leadership of their pastors, and this will be an element that the pastoral plans will address.

Yes. The lack of substantive support for parish leaders was a shortcoming in past planning processes. Each office within the Pastoral Center is actively preparing to support pastors and their teams during the implementation of Beacons of Light. There will also be a Beacons of Light support team who will serve to provide direct support and ensure consistency in implementation among the Families of Parishes. Pastors and parish leaders will receive training throughout.

The outcomes of Beacons of Light have not been predetermined. Archbishop Schnurr will has articulated principles that are the foundation for Beacons. Following consultation with priests, parameters will be affirmed by Archbishop Schnurr. These expectations will guide the development of a pastoral plan for each Family of Parishes led by their pastor, taking into account the strengths and pastoral needs of their parishes and people.

The canonical issues related to pastoral planning are being considered at every step of Beacons of Light.

The elements of parish vitality and mission are the goals of Beacons of Light and are in sync with the messaging by the Archbishop of Radiating Christ. This is why every step will be taken to promote growth and ministry as we take these important steps. The Amazing Parish process results in stronger parish leadership teams that are better equipped to lead toward the parish vitality we all seek. Nothing in Beacons of Light is incompatible with the Amazing Parish approach.

The deans will play an important role in leading the pastors of their deanery, establishing schedules that are appropriate for the Catholic community in his deanery and ensuring access to the sacraments for all the faithful.

The health of our priests is an essential component of a vital future for our parishes. Special attention is being given in Beacons of Light to fostering healthy priestly life.

This is an issue that will be addressed through partnership with the Catholic Schools Office. As many of you are aware, data has been gathered for our Catholic elementary schools as well as parishes and will be considered in the modeling of the Families of Parishes.

Beacons of Light is being designed to bring the leaders of the Families of Parishes together to discern the shape of life for their parishes. Closure may not be the first step, but may be discerned as necessary and beneficial over time. One of the key challenges will be broadening people’s perspective that the Church is bigger than just their parish; such change in mindset will take time.

Absolutely. All parishes are expected to fully participate and all will be touched by it in some way.

The underlying principles that were articulated in the framework still apply and much progress has been made toward most of the points of the framework. The Office for Pastoral Planning has been established; we are utilizing experts in data gathering and analysis in the identification of the new Families of Parishes; common terminology for groupings of parishes is being developed; communication is under way and will be ongoing to inform and engage the lay faithful about Beacons of Light; the ultimate goal of one pastor, one parish still stands.

The framework was written at a time when it was believed that the current pastoral region plans were sufficient to address the future availability of priests. However, with greater understanding of changing demographics, future population trends,  new, more accurate projections of available pastors and the decision to move toward fewer parish groupings in the future, comprehensive planning was deemed necessary. The Beacons of Light process will include the guidelines, expectations, and support necessary for each Family of Parishes to create a plan for their future.

As Beacons of Light communication continues,  you will note that the long-term goal of one pastor, one parish is acknowledged. For example in the FAQ on the Beacons of Light web page, linked here

Priests Communication

Beacons of Light Questions

2020 Convocation 

Contact us with additional questions, comments, and ideas at [email protected]