This week Archbishop Rozanski and the Office of Strategic Planning have issued a bulletin article for all parishes to publish in this week’s bulletin concerning our progress on the All Things New. In addition, I have included, in this week’s bulletin, a copy of the Archbishop’s current letter, dated August 21st to parishioners.
What is All Things New?
We all know that the Church of today is not the same that it was 50, 100 or 150+ years ago, and yet we are still functioning in many ways out of the same mode of evangelization. We have inherited a great treasure of Catholic institutions from previous generations, but as the Catholic population and society have shifted over the past several decades, they are no longer as effective or sustainable as they once were.
We are closer now to 2050 than to 1950. We need to ask ourselves what our parishes, ministries and institutions need to look like in order to effectively share the faith in a way that is suitable and sustainable for our children and generations to come.
All Things New is evaluating the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel and identifying opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies.
Why is the Archdiocese of St. Louis making these changes now?
• Our Catholic population continues to decline and age.
• Our priests are aging and as a result, their number is declining.
• Mass attendance and sacramental participation continue to decline.
• Fewer children attend Catholic Schools and Religious Education (PSR).
• Our resources are finite and need to be realigned.
• On August 19, 2022, Archbishop Rozanski met with Archdiocesan priests. What was shared?
The Achbishop and Fr. Chris Martin, Vicar for Strategic Planning, shared the next phase of All Things New with archdiocesan priests, which included proposed parish models based on our Planning Areas.
A Planning Area is a number of parishes and schools in a geographic region which will be considered together to develop proposed structural options for the future. There are 15 planning areas in the Archdiocese.
They saw several options as to how parishes in their specific Planning Area could be structured and collaborate in the future. Each option is termed a “model.”
The models are “unfinished” because they need your insight and feedback.
Archdiocesan priests will evaluate the Planning Areas and Models and offer feedback. Their feedback will be incorporated into the models. Then, the updated Planning Areas and Models will be shared at every parish in listening sessions. The purpose of the listening sessions is to gather your input on these proposed options that are specific to your parish so that over the next year a recommendation can be presented to Archbishop Rozanski for his discernment.
Modelled parishes are generally much larger than current parishes. On average, parishes are 2 to 2.5 x larger.
What happens after the Listening Sessions?
All parishioners across the Archdiocese will have an opportunity to provide feedback through an open-ended survey about their parish’s model options after the listening sessions. This feedback will be incorporated into revised models which will be refined with input from the pastors and key parish leaders throughout the winter 2022 and into 2023. Once a final recommended grouping of parishes and schools is determined, the model will also include the following:
Recommendations concerning buildings to be used by the merged parish
The number of priests initially assigned
Suggested evangelization and ministry strategies
What is the timeline for this?
While decisions will be made in spring 2023, implementation will not begin until fall 2023 and will extend through 2026. Implementation will occur in a phased approach over time to allow for orderly planning and transition at the local level, led by your pastor and supported by the Archdiocese.
What can we as local Catholics do now?
You are encouraged to attend your parish’s listening sessions with open hearts and minds. Continue to attend Mass, participate in the Sacraments and pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to pour out upon the Church of St. Louis, to grant us the gift of true discernment, so we may do His will in all things.
Father Rick Schilli