'Planning Tomorrow's Parishes' reaches mid-way point

Monday, 18 June 2012 08:43

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Preliminary Recommendations Engage Parishioners in next phase of ‘Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes’

SAGINAW — While months away from a final decision, the historic undertaking, Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes has reached the mid-way point. Preliminary recommendations from the Diocesan Planning Commission — a 19 member body comprised of priests, religious sisters and lay men and women — were completed and released to pastoral leadership on Thursday June 14 and to parish core teams on June 15. Pastors and pastoral administrators were encouraged to share the recommendations with their parishioners over the weekend.

The preliminary recommendations — which were based on the work completed by more than 600 pastors, pastoral administrators and parish members representing every church across the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw — call for reducing the number of parishes within the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw to 50, with 18 additional worship sites. There are currently 105 parishes with four additional worship sites.

"It is my hope that we, as God's people who pilgrim in the Diocese of Saginaw, may gradually come to understand that a parish is not only a building where we gather together to worship and share our experience of faith with one another, but a community of communities in which everyone has a role to play in accordance with his or her talents, resources, and vocation for the sake of God's kingdom,” said planning commission member Rev. Christian Tabares. “It is my hope that together we might strive to hand on, to our present and future generations, a Church which is a prophetic sign of unity, peace, reconciliation, and love... a Church which is a visible sign of hope.”  

Over the next three months each cohort — or grouping of three to seven neighboring parishes — will have an opportunity to write a response with rationale to the Diocesan Planning Commission, stating any suggestions or objections to the preliminary recommendation. The planning commission will meet again in October and, following comprehensive analysis of the cohort responses, will present a final recommendation to the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw. Bishop Cistone will further consult and prayerfully reflect upon the recommendations before announcing final decisions in January 2013.

“At the outset, I acknowledged that this is an emotional time,” Bishop Cistone said. “Yet, we must keep in mind that, ultimately, the Church exists to evangelize. I remain extremely optimistic that the Diocese of Saginaw has a wonderful future of life, ministry, worship and service. This optimism is based on the conviction that everyone will work together to be good stewards of the resources available to us. I am deeply grateful to all of our people as they continue in this difficult work of planning for the future.”

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 release of the preliminary recommendations indicates the completion of step three in the eight-step process.

Detailed information about Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes, including project goals, definitions and descriptions, information about the monthly Holy Hours with Bishop Cistone, as well as individual preliminary recommendations for each of the cohorts may be found by clicking here.

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