Cincinnati archdiocese implementing reorganization process of parish mergers

CNA 511290508b173 17657 1 Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is implementing a multi-year parish reorganization process which will transform its 208 parishes into 60 “families of parishes.” 

The diocesan website touts the new initiative, Beacon of Light, as offering: “People united on a journey of missionary discipleship. Full churches. Joyous liturgies. Priests who have the time to be present and attend to the needs of their people. Parishes that are alive in faith, filled with vitality, ready to form people to radiate Christ.”

The website quotes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI saying that, “The parish is a beacon that radiates the light of the faith and thus responds to the deepest and truest desires of the human heart, giving meaning and hope to the lives of individuals and families.”

The website cites many problems the diocese and Church-at-large is facing. The website says that “religious practice is declining nationwide,” also citing “the average Sunday Mass in our archdiocese is only one-third full.”

The website also says that the number of registered Catholic households in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has declined at a rate of 2.72 per day for the past decade.

“Our priests are stretched to the limit,” the website says, citing “the number of available priests will decrease by approximately 20% by 2026.”

The website says that as a result of these deficiencies, many church buildings are “grossly underutilized,” there is a lack of a sufficient amount of resources, and many parish communities “are not the vibrant communities of faith Catholics need them to be.”

A video on the website says that Beacons of Light is studying and addressing these issues to determine “how to best move from maintenance to mission.”

“Parishes will first be grouped into families of parishes,” the video says. “Each family will decide how to best organize for evangelization and discipleship,” the video continues.

The video announces the mission of Beacons of Light as better to equip “parishes and people to radiate Christ.”

In a Sept. 17 letter to the faithful of his diocese, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr wrote that “the mission of the Catholic Church, our mission, entrusted to the apostles by Jesus, is to proclaim the Good News of salvation and ‘make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt. 28:19-20).”

Archbishop Schnurr wrote that “We have a responsibility to make the best use of all the means which God has provided us to pursue this sacred mission.”

After explaining the initiative’s content, the archbishop asked for each parishioner’s feedback for “public comment October 1-20,” on the website.

“Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the information on the website,” Archbishop Schnurr wrote, “then prayerfully provide your input on this important step which will shape the future of our archdiocese.”

Beacons of Light is in a stage where “draft models” of families of parishes are made public for feedback. This coming winter, families of parishes will be finalized and announced. 

In spring 2022, pastors and parish leaders will begin preparing for the parish planning process. In summer 2022, the implementation actually begins, with each family of parishes beginning its parish planning process.

The initiative would eliminate more than 70% of active parishes, which could affect schools as well, reported.

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Archbishop Schnurr told the website that the initiative is necessary, citing the decline in priestly vocations over the past decades, adding that changes in demographics have left some schools and churches in non-Catholic situated areas.

“We’re very sensitive to the fact that change is difficult,” Archbishop Schnurr told them. also reported the archbishop believes the initiative will revitalize every parish, “allowing them to combine operations, share financial resources and create more opportunities for Catholics to engage fully with their faith.”

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