Saginaw — The first phase of the historic undertaking, Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes is underway. In recent weeks, approximately 600 pastors, pastoral administrators and parish representatives from every church across the Diocese of Saginaw gathered for training sessions that took place in Bad Axe, Clare, Pinconning, Sandusky, Saginaw and St. Louis. The training sessions helped parish representatives better understand their critical role in the planning process while having an opportunity to pray and reflect together.
This fall, following months of preliminary discussion with parish leaders, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, initiated Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes stating, “There is no doubt that the time has definitely come to review the structure and resources of the Diocese and to take necessary measures to restructure the Church of Saginaw to be in the best position to evangelize.”
Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes is a strategic planning process designed to engage parishioners to assess the state of churches across the 11-county Diocese of Saginaw and develop recommendations for future parish life.
The process utilizes a grassroots-style approach to planning that involves representation from each parish community across the diocese.
Those present at the recent training sessions are members of parish core teams. Each parish across the diocese has its own core team that consists of a pastor or pastoral administrator and four parish leaders. Each parish core team is responsible for gathering vital information about its parish, engaging and communicating with parishioners of the parish, and representing the parish during meetings held with core team members from neighboring parish communities.
Each parish core team will provide a self-evaluation of the parish that assesses strengths, names concerns and explores ways in which the parish can work with other parishes to better serve the People of God. In March 2012, parish core teams will then come together in groups, representing several parish communities, to discuss the most effective parish collaborations, including the merging, linking and partnering of churches to better utilize resources and better serve the faithful.
A diocesan planning commission, comprised of 19 members appointed by Bishop Cistone, will review preliminary recommendations from the parishes. Following the preliminary recommendations, the planning commission and each group of parishes will continue discussion on major issues. After comprehensive analysis, the diocesan planning commission will make a final recommendation to Bishop Cistone in October, 2012. Bishop Cistone will further consult and prayerfully reflect upon the recommendations before announcing final decisions in January 2013.
Parishioners across the diocese are encouraged to pray for the success of Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes, and participate in the planning process at the parish level. The entire parish planning guide, including project goals, definitions and descriptions, and a detailed timeline, is available by clicking here.
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.