The Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s “Families of Parishes” map has undergone significant revisions after 7,800 people offered their input as part of the Beacons of Light initiative designed to address the trends of fewer priests and lower attendance figures.
The final “Families of Parishes” map had seen “a considerable number of changes, but collectively they’re changes that resulted in a stronger configuration,” said archdiocese spokesperson Jennifer Schack.
The archdiocese’s “Families of Parishes” plan was initially released on Oct. 1 as part of the church’s Beacons of Light initiative calling to restructure the Catholic church in Southwest Ohio. Over the years, the church has seen a decline in membership and in overall priests.
The “Families of Parishes” plan is the grouping of the archdiocese’s 208 parishes into six deaneries ― there are currently 12 deaneries― and clustering parishes within each deanery into “families.” On Sunday the archdiocese released online the new “Families of Parishes” map, which ranges from a single parish to as many as six or seven. This final plan is set to be implemented in July 2022.
A draft map showed 60 parish “families,” but there is a reduction to 57 “families” in the final map across six geographic deaneries.
View the different "Families of Parishes" below:
Schack said there were several local considerations across the archdiocese that played a “pretty significant role” in shaping the final map. She said from 20% to 25% of the 7,800 comments pertained to the draft “Families of Parishes” plan and improvements for the map.
She said changes were made “as a consensus” between the laity and priests, and at times changes were made as a result of school relationships with multiple parishes.
Changes were also made with consideration of the size of the proposed families ― both in the number of parishes in a family as well as the geographic size ― as well as historic or existing parish relationships that weren’t known until parishioners and pastors spoke out. Other changes included consideration of religious orders that oversee parishes.
Schack said there were back-and-forth conversations with those religious orders, and the process “has strengthened those relationships” with the archdiocese.
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr recorded a message that played in all diocesean parishes, and parishioners attending mass over the weekend received a letter from the archbishop.
The archdiocese released the text of Schnurr’s message to the Journal-News ahead of its broadcast in parishes. In the recording, Schnurr said he is “convinced that Beacons of Light, born in great hope, will enable us to form stronger parishes, centered on the Eucharist, that radiate the love of Christ and the joy of the Gospel.
“We know that God is continually working through His people and that the work of the Church is never complete,” the message continued. “Sometimes that work is difficult; nonetheless, we must move forward confident in God’s providence. The work of Beacons of Light will have a powerful and positive impact on the future of this archdiocese.”
Schnurr was set to promulgate Beacons of Light at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati, ahead of the online release of the new map.
The next public milestone in the Beacons of Light initiate is the priest assignments, Schack said. Announcements of those assignments are set for this spring, but they could come as early as late February.
Schack said the number of priests is subject to change as the final numbers have not been determined yet.
Behind the scenes will be continued work by the Beacons of Light team to prepare for the implementation of the “Families of Parishes” next summer, and will be ongoing during the first six months of 2022.
“No changes for Christmas Masses this year, no pastor, no priest changes this winter, pending any emergencies, but the implementation that will impact parishes is not until July 1,” Schack said.