• A strategic pastoral planning effort examining all facets of the Archdiocese of St. Louis was announced by Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski
in July: www.archstl.org/new-strategic-planning-effort-will-examine-parishes-schools-and-ministries-in-the-archdiocese-of-st-louis-6627
• Two events were held in October to introduce the process to key members of the Archdiocese: a day for priests Oct. 8 and the 11th Pastoral Assembly Oct. 9 for lay Church leaders, both held at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury. An enrichment day for archdiocesan employees is scheduled Oct. 19.
• The name for the initiative is All Things New. It will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel, and will identify opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies.
• Encounter: Father Christopher Martin, vicar for strategic planning for the archdiocese, said this is a multi-year process that will impact the archdiocese for the next 75 years. Over the next few months, all Catholics will be called upon to pray and offer their feedback about the future of the archdiocese.
All of this should be rooted in our encounter with the Lord and desire to share the Good News with others. The plan leads with the Church’s efforts to evangelize, with infrastructure considerations secondary, he said.
“When we have become a people of deeper prayer and united around our desire to make disciples, only then do we discern our infrastructure,” Father Martin said. “We must allow ourselves to be inspired by the Holy Spirit with a vision for the future that’s so attractive that we are willing to give up what we know in order to obtain it,” Father Martin said.
• Guiding texts
for All Things New
Evangelii Nuntiandi No. 18
Go Make Disciples No. 10
Evangelii Gaudium (“Joy of the Gospel”) No. 27
• Why now? The Church evolves with society. The landscape of the archdiocese looks much different today compared to several decades ago. The effort is expected to span over several years. While the planning process is just beginning, there is expected to be a significant impact on the structure of parishes, schools and ministries.
• The current structure of the archdiocese is reflective of an immigrant Church formed centuries ago, when parishes accommodated Polish, Irish, German and other primarily European nationalities, said Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski. With an increase in secularization in our society, there is less connection with the Church, he added, with many people who don’t claim a religious affiliation.
“We have to be a little different in the way we proclaim the Gospel,” Archbishop Rozanski said. “We can’t expect people to come to us because they’re bound by culture. It’s up to us, as it was up to those first apostles, to be able to proclaim the faith. Jesus said until the end of time, in every age.” We fulfill our baptismal call to bring the Gospel message to others, he said. “How do we as the Church of St. Louis, with such a rich cultural Catholic heritage, make sure that the Gospel is proclaimed to future generations?”
• The number of active Catholics in the archdiocese continues to decline, as reported by John Schwob, director of pastoral planning: www.archstl.org/downward-trend-of-registered-catholics-in-the-archdiocese-of-st-louis-continues-6836
• Also, if the current priesthood ordination trend continues, the number of active priests is expected equal the number of parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis by 2027: www.archstl.org/fewer-number-of-priests-brings-challenges-5090
• The archdiocese’s pastoral planning process is being supported by Catholic Leadership Institute, an organization that supports Catholic leaders in strengthening parishes and fostering disciples.
Nearly 650 people in the archdiocese were consulted in August and September, who provided feedback as a launching point for discussion, said Michael School, executive vice president with Catholic Leadership Institute.
• Some of the major themes
that emerged from that feedback
include: St. Louis has a strong Catholic identity and culture; there’s a hemorrhaging of youth and young adults from the Church; past evangelization efforts have fallen short; churches are too parochial; a division between the city and suburbs; the number of schools exceed the needs and hampers the ability to do other important ministry work; a greater focus on lay leadership is needed; we must be bold and forward-looking.
• Timeline:There is expected to be two years of prayer, discernment and planning, including collecting data and feedback on all aspects within the archdiocese. Within parishes, that includes looking at registered parishioners, sacraments and Mass attendance, as well as stories of the people in those parishes. Resources for prayer and evangelization will be shared on the archdiocesan, parish and individual levels to guide the discernment process. Eventually, several models will be proposed to facilitate the work of evangelization, with implementation expected to begin by the fall of 2023.