Twin Cities' Archdiocese Undergoes Restructuring Project

“90% of Parishes Will Remain,” says Archbishop

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota, OCT. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Catholics attending Mass this past weekend in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis learned of a major restructuring project that is to take place. Under the guidance of Archbishop John Nienstedt, a 16-member Strategic Planning Task Force recently completed a 20-month evaluation of the archdiocese.

This evaluation involved the input of thousands of people from across the archdiocese; from clergy to lay people, from Catholic school staffers to Catholic school families; and parishioners across the board. The task force used the information gathered, as well as other demographic assessments, and presented their findings to the archbishop.

The restructuring of some parishes and Catholic schools within the archdiocese is intended to “ensure the continued vitality for the 800,000 Catholics in the 12-county area.”

Of the current 213 parishes operating within the archdiocese, 21 parishes will merge into 14 receiving parishes, leaving 192 parishes remaining.

Currently, 25% of the parishes within the archdiocese share a pastor with another parish; through the new restructuring, an additional 33 parishes will share their pastor with one or more churches. Finally, 25 parishes have been selected for a structured collaboration, meaning that in the coming year, attention will be focused on how they can improve collaboration on programming and staffing.

Not only the parishes, but the Catholic schools as well, will see a change. Along with a national consulting group, the Strategic Task Force is looking for ways to instill the best practices for the students and the community. All schools in the archdiocese will undergo an ongoing evaluation to determine their sustainability.

Schools that are found to be of questionable sustainability will have the opportunity to develop an improvement plan. Upon review, leaders, such as priests and school officials, will determine if the school has a promising future.

Parishioners, clergy and staff of parishes impacted by the restructuring will begin meeting this month to learn more about the reorganization and how the changes will affect them. The changes will begin to take place over the next few months and years, though structural changes are not scheduled to begin until next year and all Catholic schools will continue to operate through the current school year.

Motivations

The motivation behind the restructuring project includes changing demographics, too many parish churches and buildings in close proximity to each other, and the poor condition of some buildings; as well as the number of the clergy available to meet current and future needs of the archdiocese. Lastly, the declining school age population is affecting the Catholic schools and well as public schools in the region. The archdiocese is not alone in their effort to reorganize, as dioceses and public institutions across the country have been faced with similar conditions and considerations.

Remaining true to their dedication to disadvantaged youth, the archdiocese will continue to support certain schools that may provide Catholic education to the poor or may provide a Church presence in key geographic regions.

Among Archbishop Nienstedt’s top priorities in the planning process is to give special consideration to “the poor, the marginalized and the immigrant” of the community. The archbishop is committed to ensuring that “full worship and sacramental ministry be available to every Catholic in all geographic areas of the archdiocese.”

The archbishop explained that careful consideration and prayerful thought went into the Strategic Plan and that the ultimate goal is to revitalize the local church so that it will be able to meet the needs of “all our brothers and sisters in Christ now and in the future.”

“Please know of my personal concern and prayers for members of this local Church who will eventually suffer the loss of a beloved parish home, or parish and for Catholic school employees who are worried about losing their jobs and others deeply impacted by these changes,” Archbishop Nienstedt said.

While the archbishop acknowledges that these changes will be difficult for some to accept, he asked for the support of his flock: “I am hopeful that upon reflection everyone in the archdiocese will see the long-range benefits that these changes will bring and I respectfully ask for your acceptance and understanding.”

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ZENIT Staff

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