At his first State of the Archdiocese address to archdiocesan employees on July 1, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski announced a new strategic planning effort that will examine all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The archbishop said the effort “will shape the footprint of our efforts in the future in very significant ways. This is something that I believe cannot wait and we must immediately seize the opportunity to radically change our approach as to how we evangelize and reach the people of this archdiocese. To effectively do this, we can leave no stone unturned. We must honestly assess our ministry, our structures our approach and our effectiveness.”
• Who’s leading the effort:
Father Christopher Martin has been appointed as vicar for strategic planning. He will work closely with Catholic Leadership Institute and other stakeholders to oversee the planning process, which is expected to take several years.
• A shift in mindset:
Father Martin said the focus is on people, not buildings. “Archbishop (Rozanski) has been saying that this is a plan to ensure that your grandchildren are Catholic,” Father Martin said. “To think that the mode of evangelization of the 1950s would be successful in 2050 is an incorrect assumption.”
• Evangelization is a key component:
The strategic planning efforts will be closely aligned with evangelization, which is proclaiming the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ to others, said Archbishop Rozanski. “It’s the most central mission of the Catholic Church and her deepest identity,” he said. “It is my top priority.”
• One of the challenges:
Archbishop Rozanski ordained six men were for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of St. Louis in May. St. Louis continues to have among the highest per capita rate of priests per person in the country, for a diocese of our size. However, the archbishop acknowledged that fewer priests are ordained than the archdiocese loses each year, due to retirement/leaving active ministry or death. Within five years, the number of active diocesan priests in parish work will match, and then dip, below the number of parishes in the archdiocese.
The first year will be spent collecting information, including data and feedback from various stakeholders, which will include chancery leadership, priest deans and deanery meetings, lay leaders and the faithful at large. The second year will entail developing several options for carrying out the plan. An additional two to three years will be spent implementing it, although the timeline is an estimate, said Father Martin.