Rev. Jan Schmidt
Director of Pastoral Life & Evangelization
100 East Eighth Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
About Pastoral Regions
1. Why has the Archdiocese created pastoral regions?
2. What are the types of pastoral regions?
3. What are the goals of a pastoral region?
4. What does it mean to “work in a collaborative manner?”
5. How will pastoral regions be implemented?
6. How many parishes in the Archdiocese already share a pastor? How many priests pastor more than one parish?
7. What is the task of a Pastoral Region Planning Team?
8. Who sits on a Pastoral Region Planning Team?
9. Who makes the decisions about the future of a pastoral region?
10. Are collaborating parishes eventually merged into one new parish? Or does one of the parishes close?
11. What is the difference between a collaborative pastoral region and a merged pastoral region?
12. Isn’t parish identity going to be lost in forming and implementing pastoral regions?
13. What are the challenges in implementing the pastoral region?
14. How long is a pastor assigned?
15. If a parish shares a pastor, does this mean there will be only one priest available?
16. Is the pastor regularly available in all parishes of a pastoral region?
17. What is the role of deacons in pastoral regions?
18. What is a pastoral administrator? How many are there in the Archdiocese?
19. What guidelines does the Archdiocese have for the celebration of Sunday Masses?
20. How do these guidelines help ensure the quality of Sunday Masses?
21. How many Masses are priests allowed to celebrate in one day?
22. When all is said and done, isn’t a pastoral region charged with building up the kingdom of God?
Click here for a printable copy of “Frequently Asked Questions”
1. Why has the Archdiocese created pastoral regions?
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has been planning for a number of years how to live the mission of Jesus Christ in the future using available resources (personnel, programs and finances) as effectively as possible, with changing demographics and fewer priests. Part of this future planning was the “clustering” of our more than 200 parishes into approximately 100 pastoral regions.
For administrative purposes, parishes of the Archdiocese are grouped together geographically into deaneries. Each is led by a dean, a priest appointed by the Archbishop. Deans worked with the parishes of their deaneries to determine the pastoral regions, using the most appropriate process for their area. The formation of these pastoral regions was approved by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk in October 2005 as part of the Futures Project.
There are three types of pastoral regions: Single Parish Regions, Collaborative Regions and Merged Regions.
- A Single Parish Region normally has a Sunday October count of over 2,000 people attending weekend masses. One pastor is assigned by the Archbishop, often with the help of a parochial vicar (sometimes known as an assistant pastor);.
- A Collaborative Region is a group of parishes with one pastor who is assigned by the Archbishop. The pastor leads the parish staff(s) and leaders. Each parish retains its own Pastoral Council, Finance Council and Pastoral Staff, in a collaborative manner. There may be one or more churches may be used for worship;.
- A Merged Region is a group of two or more parishes that are joined together to create a new canonical parish with one pastor assigned by the Archbishop, one Pastoral Council, Finance Council and Pastoral Staff, and one or more worship sites or churches.
In each pastoral region setting, – The pastor and laity minister together out of their respective vocations;, working in a collaborative manner to build up a ministerially complete, vibrant church in the region. A pastoral administrator may be engaged to enable ongoing parish life including liturgy, pastoral care and administration. The administrator would assist the pastor in his function of liaison between the parish and the diocesan church, local church and community.
Pastoral regions are formed on a commitment of the parishes involved to work together, share ministries as needed and coordinate sacramental schedules. Eventually, the parishes will be prepared to share one pastor. The parishes’ goal is to become a vibrant pastoral region to live the mission of Jesus Christ.
In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the call for parishes to develop collaborative relationships with neighboring parishes started with the For the Harvest 1986 program, a parish-based consultation project focused on two major emerging trends: the development of new forms of ministry and the declining number of priests. Parishes and parish clusters were invited to respond to the question, “What must we do to ensure high-quality parish ministry in the future?” Summaries of cooperative strategies were prepared and presented to an Archdiocesan Planning Committee and to each dean.
There are a number of ways two or more parishes can collaborate (Source: Collaboration: Uniting Our Gifts in Ministry by Loughlan Sofield, ST and Carroll Juliano, SHCJ):
- Communication: A decision is made between the parishes “to enter into some mutual interaction.” Information is exchanged and invitations are extended concerning parish programs, events, etc. Parish leaders regularly communicate with one another.
- Cooperation: Greater familiarity with each other leads the parishes to move toward greater interdependence. In a pastoral region setting one parish may be the “lead agent” for a project or program and the other is seen as auxiliary to the lead staff person or group.
- Collaboration: This is experienced when the parishes articulate and take “ownership of a common mission” and “work together for a common goal” e.g., “developing a plan to be a vibrant collaborative pastoral region.” The desire to collaborate, rather than compete, arises as the driving force. Turf and competition are replaced by a spirit of mutuality and partnership. Different gifts and resources are brought together “in ministry for the common purpose of furthering the mission of Jesus Christ.” A good example: A program or event is jointly planned and implemented.
Exactly how and when each pastoral region is implemented will be different based on the needs of the Archdiocese and the parishes involved. The sharing of pastors will take place as the need arises, not according to any specific timeline. Implementation may be expedited in the event of an unexpected change in the status of a pastor serving one of the parishes involved. Planning and making preparations for that time when pastoral regions are implemented is the work and purpose of Pastoral Region Planning Teams.
At the end of 2011, 103 parishes share a pastor. These parishes are served by 42 priests. This number includes 10 priests from religious communities or another diocese.
A Pastoral Region Planning Team has five main objectives:
- To develop a good working relationship.
- To clarify its task and role within the decision making process in each parish.
- To understand and update each parish’s information profile.
- To review current collaborative efforts and develop plans for other collaborative efforts.
- To develop both a transitional plan and a final plan for implementing the pastoral region when there will be one pastor serving the parishes of the pastoral region.
Typically, an equal number of parishioners from each parish in the pastoral region are appointed to serve on the Pastoral Region Planning Team with input from the Pastoral Councils. The pastor(s) sit on the team. It is helpful to have one member of each Pastoral Council on the team to facilitate and insure communication between both groups.
The pastoral region plan is developed by the Pastoral Region Planning Team, presented to the parish communities involved and approved by each parish’s Pastoral Council. The locally approved plan is then presented to the Archbishop for final approval.
Not necessarily. Throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and in other dioceses, two or more parishes in a collaborative pastoral region continue to function as separate canonical parishes (with their own Pastoral Council, Finance Council and Pastoral Staff) while increasingly collaborating to serve their parish communities. These collaborative pastoral regions continue to function after five years and some after 10 or more years. One of the planning parameters set forth in the Futures Project states: “All parishes remain open initially in some form unless the pastor in consultation with parish leadership recommends closing or merging.”
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In a collaborative pastoral region the parishes remain independent, canonical parishes. In a merger, the parishes involved close, a new parish is created and a new parish name is established. The resources of the closed parishes are transferred to the new parish.
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Experience has shown effective partnering and working side-by-side can insure the integrity of individual parishes’ identities and concerns.
In addition to developing a plan that honors the customs and unique character of each parish in the region, pastoral leadership is called on to acknowledge and tend to the sense of disappointment and loss that naturally flows from the changes involved and guide parishioners to remain hopeful in the Lord and see Him in the breaking of the Bread at each Mass celebrated.
A pastor is assigned for a six-year term, which is renewable once for priests under the age of 63. A priest over age 63 may be permitted to remain at a parish until he retires, provided he is in good health, with the permission of the Archbishop
Not necessarily. For some years to come, retired priests and priests who teach at the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary or serve in other capacities within the Archdiocese will be available to assist pastors of pastoral regions.
The pastor serves all the parishes of his pastoral region. He develops a plan with the Pastoral Region Planning Team, Pastoral Councils and Pastoral Staffs to ensure that he can best meet each parish’s needs in a way that makes the most sense for the people of his region.
Permanent deacons are ordained by the Church to assist bishops and priests by proclaiming the Gospel, administering the sacraments, offering worship and serving the poor and faithful. Permanent deacons serve in many roles in parishes throughout the Archdiocese. In pastoral regions, their ministries will continue to be valued and determined by the needs of each region.
A pastoral administrator provides pastoral leadership for implementing the mission of the parish(s) assigned to her/him, including the areas of liturgy, pastoral care and administration. The pastoral administrator assists the canonical pastor for the pastoral region in his function of liaison between the parish(s) and the Archdiocese, local church and community. At this time there are just two Pastoral Administrators; one is a permanent deacon, the other is a lay woman.
Published in 1982, the guidelines state:
- Parishes cannot schedule more than one Saturday afternoon/night Mass.
- All weekend Masses should be celebrated in a church that is at least 50% “full.”
- Fuller churches lead to an efficient use of ministers (lay and ordained).
- There should always be at least 90 minutes between starting times of Masses.
If these guidelines are not being met, parishes have been encouraged to look seriously at their weekend Mass schedules and make appropriate changes.
The quality of Sunday Mass suffers when there are too many weekend Masses or smaller congregations. The liturgy is always enhanced by a church that is more full than empty, making it easier to have enough lay ministers to celebrate the liturgy well. Likewise, if priests are to be genuinely enthusiastic each time they preside, they normally should not be expected to regularly preside multiple times every weekend.
According to Canon Law, a priest should normally celebrate one Mass per day. Bishops can permit priests to celebrate two Masses per day for just cause, for example, on a Sunday or holyday of obligation, or on a weekday if there is a funeral. Bishops can also permit priests to celebrate three Masses per day on Sundays or holydays of obligation, if there is a genuine and serious pastoral need, for instance, if the priest is responsible for more than one parish.
Yes, the pastoral region’s mission remains the same as that of each Roman Catholic Church, to live the mission of Jesus Christ in the Archdiocese. The purpose of the pastoral region is to build a vibrant church in the region in a way that is ministerially complete, especially in the areas of:
- Worship and spirituality
- Catechesis and education
- Pastoral ministry
- Evangelization and outreach
- Mission centered leadership and administration
- Mission centered fiscal solvency