SAGINAW — As parishioners across the Diocese of Saginaw begin the New Year, most realize 2012 will be a significant year in the life of their local Church. They have been called upon to help enhance the vibrancy of parish life by praying for and participating in the prophetic planning process, Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes. They will also be invited to help celebrate a momentous event in the history of the diocese, its 75th anniversary.
At a time when the diocese is paying tribute to its past and planning for its future, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, shares his confidence and optimism in the plans God has in store for the diocese in A Future Full of Hope, his first pastoral letter to the people of the Diocese of Saginaw.
The pastoral letter combines reflections upon the many experiences of Bishop Cistone’s first two years in the diocese, with an indication of where he hopes to lead the diocese in the next several years. He states that the Diocese of Saginaw is at a critical and defining moment in its history, and that now is ‘a time of grace’ for the local church.
“Our forthcoming 75th anniversary provides an opportunity for us to reflect upon our past, make a clear and honest assessment of our present and move forward with a common vision for the future.” writes Bishop Cistone in his letter. “We must work together to create and embark upon this vision. Drifting slowly into an undefined future is not an option.”
Part of planning for the future includes the significant undertaking Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes, a strategic planning process designed to engage parishioners to assess the state of churches across the 11-county Diocese of Saginaw and develop recommendations to enhance the vibrancy of future parish life.
Bishop Cistone writes about the planning process in his pastoral letter stating, “It is our hope that, through this process, we will be in a position to enliven sacramental, educational and community life, including service and stewardship, for all our people. Every parish will be asked to assess its strengths, name concerns and explore ways in which it can work with other parishes to better serve the People of God in the work of evangelization.”
Together, with lifelong Catholic education, Bishop Cistone will focus on evangelization, and his chief priority will be to promote a deeper love and appreciation for the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is the foundation, the very essence, of what it means for us to be a Church,” Bishop Cistone wrote in A Future Full of Hope. “All priorities must find their source, meaning and grace in the Eucharist. I am convinced that, together, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will experience in these coming days the grace and strength to bring a New Evangelization to our beloved Diocese of Saginaw.”
The pastoral letter, A Future Full of Hope was mailed in December to all registered parishioners in the Diocese of Saginaw. Additional copies may be requested or downloaded by clicking here. The pastoral letter will soon be available in Spanish. Bishop Cistone talks about the writing of his pastoral letter in a video that is posted on the FAITHsaginaw YouTube channel.
The Diocese of Saginaw is home to 108,601 Catholics, worshiping in 105 parish communities, across Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.