Thirty-nine parishes will take on new names when mergers take effect this summer. All parishes have written action plans with emphasis on evangelization.
SAGINAW- In a significant step toward restructuring parishes across the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, 39 churches are coming together in new parish communities with new parish names effective this July 1, 2013. Additionally, all parishes in the diocese have written their own action plan to revitalize parish life and will focus on areas such as providing enhanced educational programs for young people and adults, nurturing vocations and living out the Church’s mission of evangelization.
“The parish name changes and action plans, along with the recent assignments of parish leadership, bring us another step closer to enlivening and enriching our parishes,” said the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw. “I realize that it is still difficult for some to accept the decision to merge parishes, however, we must move forward together to do the work of evangelization in the name of Jesus Christ.”
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, with other churches for additional use each weekend or for occasional use, such as the wedding or funerals of former members. Currently, there are 105 parish communities and four additional churches. Several of these churches are technically missions. The parish restructuring plan is one component of Bishop Cistone’s vision for a complete revitalization of the diocese.
More than 600 lay/faithful, pastors, pastoral administrators, deacons and religious sisters, representing every parish, are involved at the grassroots level to implement Bishop Cistone’s decisions. They have worked together to write action plans identifying three goals for their parish that would strengthen evangelization efforts and outreach. The plans were recently submitted to and reviewed by the Diocesan Implementation Team. Responses have been shared with parish communities.
Additionally, each of the 39 parishes that will merge this July 1 submitted a list of three proposed new parish names to Bishop Cistone. In many cases the names were voted on by parishioners and Bishop Cistone attempted to grant the top name choice as often as possible. Not surprisingly, St. Francis of Assisi was a popular first choice given the recent election of Pope Francis. A complete list of new parish names is available by clicking here.
In the weeks ahead, many parishes will be celebrating both closing and opening Masses in their parishes. These celebrations will honor the past, while welcoming opportunities to partner with members of neighboring churches in new ways into the future.
“I am grateful to all those who are making every effort to cooperate with surrounding parishes, whether in mergers, linkages or partnerships,” Bishop Cistone said. “Much progress has been made to date and there is more work to come, along with many blessings.”
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.