In the Fall of 2015 a task force was created to look at ways to serve parishes with the diminishing numbers of priests in the Diocese of Saint Cloud. In the Spring of 2016 the task force recommended to the bishop the need for “consulting broadly…providing you and your fellow presbyters with accurate information and building the rapport necessary for clerical and lay parish leadership to buy into the process and its outcomes.” The planning council then began the task of creating a process for broad consultation.  In the summer of 2017, invitations were given to all presbyters. The questions and responses are below. In the Fall of 2017, deanery meetings were held with representatives (finance council, pastoral council, faith formation, youth ministry, and pastor) from every parish were invited to answer five questions. Also in the Fall of 2017, these questions were asked of the curia members and as a workshop at Diocesan Ministry Day. In the Spring of 2017 every parish was invited to engage parishioners in a discussion around these five questions as well as a sixth question – What substantial recommendations do you have for the diocese? Below are the responses to all of these consultations.


Priest’s Meetings – Summer 2017

What is right sizing?

  • Right sizing is not a number, vibrancy is a sign
  • People (parishioners) involvement
  • Small parishes, very actively engaged members
  • Quality needs to be there
  • Follow where people are (market)
  • What should parish accomplish?
  • Are we allocating resources appropriately?
  • Develop good leadership in parishes
  • Facilitate/empower/engage people of God
  • Four tiered system
    • 3 Masses
    • 2 Masses
    • 1 Mass (Sunday not Saturday)
    • Oratory
  • Geographic presence
  • Scarcity/location
  • Priest preference? Get away from a priest driven plan. Some priests may be better suited for a role that is not a pastor, but could be parochial vicar or chaplain.
  • Think more creatively, millennium generation-participation, vibrancy, and relationship.

How do we measure vibrancy?

  • Factors to consider:
    • Youth
    • Music
    • Full participation
    • Changing demographics
    • Sense of ownership on part of laity, welcoming, feeling sense of belonging
  • Mission and parish need to come together
  • If community is dying do we need to limp along?
  • Strong formation of laity
  • Lack of full participation of people
  • Can they afford to support a parish?
  • People engaged in mission of parish/charity/social justice
  • Well-being of pastor is very important
  • Can we meet all needs of a parish?
  • Vocation of priest and laity

Can 131 parishes continue?

  • No – different model is needed
  • Perhaps remain open as:
    • Chapel
    • Oratory
    • Mission
    • Church
  • Use the present to build a strong future
  • New definition of parish, parishes need to learn a new way of being Church
  • Numbers and finances
  • Shortage of priests? OR shortage of parishioners?
  • More to being Roman Catholic than place/location
  • Laity need to feel trusted and empowered
  • What are we waiting for before we make changes?
  • Need to remember the Hispanic community and include them in the future planning in the Diocese
  • Communication and trust the Holy Spirit
  • Hard for some pastors to give up control
  • Might be time for parishes to get used to the idea that they cannot stay open

General Comments

  • All agreed that regional planning would be better than using the same formula for the entire Diocese, every region has different needs and issues.
  • Always want a Catholic presence in every region.
  • Don’t leave the younger priests our to the planning

Diocesan Ministry Day Core Session – September 2017

What does it mean to have quality parish life?

  • Vibrant liturgy
  • Fiscal accountability, necessary resources
  • Lively welcoming spirit
  • True community involvement, young and old
  • Mission vs. Maintenance

What resources does a parish need to have that quality of life?

  • Strong leadership: Clergy and Lay people
  • Dedicated stewardship
  • Accessibility and safe buildings
  • Technology up to date
  • Support from the Diocese
  • Open communication

How can we sustain 131 parishes with a projected 57 priests under the age of 70 as we look to the future?

  • Change in governance, reduce Masses
  • Regional churches
  • Impossible, there must be a paradigm shift, Quality vs. quantity
  • Close or restructure small parishes – monthly Mass
  • Close parishes instead of twinning, People have become too attached to a building. Educate about our Catholic identity, we are citizens of heaven not of an individual parish.
  • We have enough priests for the amount of active Catholics, we have too many buildings

How do we maintain a Catholic presence in the 16 counties, 12,500 square miles , of the Diocese of Saint Cloud?

  • Combining modern ideas/traditional values
  • Moving priest – evangelizing
  • Embrace technology (social media) – youth
  • Creative new models
  • Restructure parishes

Deanery Meetings – Fall 2017

What does it mean to have quality parish life?

  • Welcoming parish community, communication, transperancy
  • Mass, good liturgy
  • All ages active, empowered lay leadership
  • healthy finances, stability of life
  • School present and well attended
  • Availability of sacraments, evangelization and cooperation
  • Youth and adult religious education
  • Engagement of pastor in community
  • Multi-generational and multi-cultural
  • Sustainable community – growing population

What resources does a parish need to have that quality of life?

  • Financial resources, faithful members
  • Clear vision, identity as a parish
  • Plan for sustainablity
  • Leadership and organiztion
  • Well trained staff

How can we sustain 131 parishes with a projected 57 priests under the age of 70 as we look to the future?

  • Full church, Church=buildings? OR Church=people?
  • Good priests
  • Strong Diocesan support – provide more resources for parish and finance councils, ministers, etc.
  • Feeling of belonging by all people
  • People, and open minded people
  • More deacons and have a better use of their role in the Church
  • Centralized administration
  • Utilize technology and laity
  • Pray for vocations
  • Close parishes, openness to change
  • Help people realize church is more than a building
  • Married priests and ordained women
  • Reduce number of Masses
  • More parish life coordinators
  • Looking to where the Catholic are, are all parishes viable? Geographic shifts of people, move where population centers are. Clustering helps familiarized others with surrounding parishes.

How do we maintain a Catholic presence in the 16 counties, 12,5000 square miles, of the Diocese of St. Cloud?

  • Involve laity more
  • Mass daily, weekly, monthly, and special occasions split between parishes
  • Uber priests
  • Make Catholic presence visible
  • Technology – utilizing radio, TV Mass, diocesan app with local Mass times, video conferencing Mass into parishes
  • Re-education and understanding of “parish” parish is not a building, it’s about coming together to worship Christ
  • Catholic school
  • Keep open, at all costs – closing makes it look like religion is not important
  • One Mass per month
  • New structure (new buildings) to bring communities together (multiple parish communities), one church building within an area, study how far people are willing to travel, larger community hub with several priests, who go out to smaller communities

Diocesan Curia – December 2017

What does it mean to have quality parish life?

  • Deep sense of community
  • Vibrant liturgy (preaching, music)
  • Ministries provided
  • Stewardship – $$
  • Strong lay leadership
  • Parish at the center of community
  • Hospitality – inclusivity
  • Living the paschal mystery – strong evaluation

What resources does a parish need to have that quality of life?

  • Good planning – common vision
  • Diocesan support
  • Stewardship – $$
  • Sufficient, well trained staff
  • Just workplace, just wages
  • Collegial leadership
  • Clusters – collaborative, share resources
  • Quality of lifelong learning for leaders and laity
  • Inclusive – resources for all groups (Hispanic population)

How can we sustain 131 parishes with a projected 57 priests under the age of 70 ad we look to the future?

  • Lay ecclesial ministers
  • Deacons
  • Centers of excellence in deaneries
  • Get away from buildings – need regional parishes
  • Stabilize parishes, have good process in place for closure and time for grieving
  • Consider new models, demographic and population shifts
  • Close parishes
  • International preists
  • Oratories aren’t the answer
  • Ongoing formation
  • Intercultural competence

How do we maintain a Catholic presence in the 16 counties, 12,500 square miles of the Diocese of St. Cloud?

    • Empower lay leaders to be the presence
    • Recognize growing diverse presence
    • Share stories in communities
    • Diocesan office more present through service
    • Training constantly in areas of diocese
    • Being innovative
    • Guidelines – strategic on demographics, maximize resources
    • Meet need of younger generations

Parish Meetings – Spring 2017

What does it mean to have quality parish life?

  • Pastors engagement and seeing his excitement
  • Active participation for mass
  •  Good Mass attendance – vibrant liturgy
  •  Adoration
  •  Well trained staff
  •  Welcoming – hospitality
  •  Social outreach
  •  Sacraments
  •  Faith formation, adult and youth
  •  Financially sound –stewardship
  •  Transparency from the Diocese
  •  Communication

What resources does a parish need to have that quality of life?

  • Strong educated leadership
  • Pastor
  • Volunteers
  • Technology
  • Parishioner involvement
  • Stewardship
  • Youth activities
  • Sense of community
  • Good facilities
  • Generational inclusion

How can we sustain 131 parishes with a projected 57 priests under the age of 70 ad we look to the future?

  • Televised masses
  • Close parishes if need be
  • More deacons
  • Relook at number of masses
  • Combining meetings within clusters
  • Trained Administrators – centralized administration
  • Combine more parishes
  • Combine the parishes into one church
  • Less buildings
  • Fewer mass times
  • Keep enough parishes open to meet the number of Catholics practicing
  • Foreign priests – promote vocations
  • Vary mass times with area parishes
  • Mass at different parish every Sunday with one priest
  • Ordain married men and women

How do we maintain a Catholic presence in the 16 counties, 12,500 square miles of the Diocese of St. Cloud?

  • Evangelization
  • Technology
  • Close some parishes
  • Do not close parishes
  • Simulcast Mass
  • Consolidation
  • Evangelization teams
  • Keep rural parishes open to maintain accessibility to Mass
  • Fewer Masses
  • Pray for Vocations
  • Lay Leadership and education