SAGINAW — In another significant step toward the successful implementation of decisions resulting from Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, today announced the clerical and parish assignments for the year beginning July 1, 2013. As part of his continued effort to best position the diocese to focus on the Church’s mission of evangelization, Bishop Cistone, along with the Priest Personnel Board, began working on assignments several months ago.
“The assignment process is normally a considerable undertaking,” Bishop Cistone said. “This year, despite the decrease in the number of parishes, the task was even more challenging. This was due to the fact that a number of mergers are not scheduled to take effect until one or two years from now. Many pastors and pastoral administrators will be responsible for several communities working to form one parish, not to mention the number of parish buildings to care for. And, we continue to deal with an aging presbyterate.”
The vast majority of priests and pastoral administrators will experience a change of parish(es) and residence as of July 1, 2013. In an effort to make the changes as smooth as possible, Bishop Cistone met personally with every priest and pastoral administrator in the diocese. He discussed with each one their health and well-being, their availability for active ministry, the current status of the parishes they serve, and their own preference for future ministry.
“I continue to be amazed by the generosity of our priests and pastoral administrators who tirelessly and faithfully serve the people of the Diocese of Saginaw,” Bishop Cistone said.
To provide greater support to parish leaders across the diocese, especially during the restructuring process, Bishop Cistone has appointed the Rev. William J. Rutkowski as his Vicar General full-time.
“Father Rutkowski will work closely with me in the overall governance of the Diocese,” Bishop Cistone said. “His major responsibility is to be available to the pastors and administrators to ensure that the parish reorganizations are progressing well and that the Diocese is providing ample assistance to the parishes and cohorts in their local work.
“I express sincere gratitude to Father Thomas McNamara who has served as my Vicar General over these past three and a half years. He has been of great assistance to me and to the Diocese as a whole, in addition to his ministry as Rector of our Cathedral.”
The addition of a full-time Vicar General comes as parishes across the diocese prepare to implement major changes this summer. In the last few months, Parish Implementation Teams, consisting of more than 600 lay/faithful, pastors, pastoral administrators, deacons and religious sisters, representing every parish, have been working with surrounding parishes as they prepare to link, merge or partner.
“With these announcements, our work of implementation takes a major step forward,” Bishop Cistone said. “Administrators will now be able to engage in discussions regarding their future assignments. I realize that our good people are still experiencing a myriad of thoughts and feelings regarding the reorganization of our parishes. Some still find it difficult to accept the decision to merge parishes. As difficult as these changes may be, when you carefully study the new assignments for this year, it is clear that they were necessary. Now, we must move forward together to enliven and enrich our parishes to do the work of evangelization in the name of Jesus Christ.
“I am grateful to all those serving on parish Implementation Teams, together with all parishioners, who are making every effort to cooperate with surrounding parishes, whether in linkages, mergers, or partnerships. There is much work still to come, along with many blessings.”
In January, through the work of Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes, Bishop Cistone announced decisions to restructure parish communities across the Diocese of Saginaw and designate use of churches to better serve the faithful. By 2015, there will be 56 parish communities, 24 churches for additional use and 29 churches for occasional use. Currently, there are 105 parish communities, several of which are technically missions, and four additional churches throughout the diocese. The parish restructuring plan is one component of Bishop Cistone’s vision for a complete revitalization of the diocese.
The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was established by Pope Pius XI on February 26, 1938. Today, it includes 6,955 square miles across Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Sanilac, Saginaw and Tuscola counties. The diocesan 75th anniversary year of prayer and celebration for blessings past and yet to come began on September 8, 2012, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and will conclude on August 15, 2013, the Solemnity of the Assumption, the patronal feast of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.
Click here to read a letter from Bishop Cistone regarding this year's assignments.