Parish Strategic Planning Task Force begins work

| November 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Strategic Planning LogoA group of local Catholic leaders has begun meeting about the next phase of parish strategic planning within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The first Parish Strategic Planning Task Force meeting took place this month with more planned at least monthly into spring.

“This round of strategic planning builds on the work done during the last phase in 2009-2010,” said Father John Bauer, who co-chairs the current task force and co-chaired the last one. “This really will become part of business as usual. Strategic planning will take place every five years to respond to demographic, personnel, economic and other changes and to help ensure that the needs of the local Catholic community are met.”

Pastors and other parish and Catholic community leaders last worked on a strategic planning process that resulted in the 2010 archdiocesan strategic plan. It is anticipated that the current process will be shorter in duration, will work largely with updated data from the previous session, and will focus on needs in particular geographic areas.

“Unlike the last round of planning, not every parish is being asked to provide data for the process,” said Marilou Eldred, who co-chairs the task force with Father Bauer. “We have that valuable baseline information from the last planning process, and we are going back to follow up on recommendations regarding specific parishes or regions.”

Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché, who is overseeing the process, said leaders are hopeful that the strategic planning process will engage the faithful at the parish level, as it did in the previous round.

“The parishioners, parish leaders, parish staffs and pastors are the ones who are most informed about the situation and the needs in their respective deaneries,” Bishop Piché said. “We absolutely need their input and ideas, and we are relying on people to share this input with their pastors.

“There are no ‘givens’ in this next phase of planning, except for our common mission and the shared goal of increasing the vitality of parishes,” he added.

Bishop Piché appointed Father Bauer and Eldred to lead the volunteer task force, which includes veterans of the last process and new faces from a variety of parish communities.

For the planning process, pastors are asked to share input from their parishes at deanery meetings. Then, the dean and/or other representative from the deanery will present recommendations to the task force. Every parish belongs to a deanery; each of the 15 geographic deaneries and the Latino Ministry deanery will provide input.

The task force also is considering input gathered through the parish visitation process and GROW pastoral planning process. Regional vicars have visited 108 parishes in the archdiocese since the visitation process was launched in 2012, and nearly 80 parishes have participated or are currently engaged in GROW. Both the parish visitation process and GROW are initiatives from the 2010 strategic plan.

People wanting to provide input in the process may call (651) 291-4435 or email

The guiding principles of the task force are similar to those used in 2010. The 2014-2015 guiding principles are:

  1. Full sacramental ministry
  2. Competent pastoral leaders
  3. Special concern for the needs of the poor, marginalized and immigrants
  4. Wherever applicable and possible, there will be dialogue and collaboration with parish leaders and Catholic school leadership and the Comprehensive Assignment Board, a body that helps make clergy assignments to parishes and elsewhere
  5. Respect, patience and honesty in all discussions to build on strengths.

The task force hopes to share its report and recommendations with Archbishop John Nienstedt in the spring of 2015. More information about the strategic planning process is available on the 2014-2015 Strategic Planning page.


Task force members
Brother Milton Barker – Totino-Grace High School, Fridley
Father John Bauer – task force co-chair, Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis
Judy Berger – St. Genevieve, Centerville
Deacon Robert Durham – Our Lady of Grace, Edina
Marilou Eldred – task force co-chair, Assumption, St. Paul
Father Kevin Finnegan – Our Lady of Grace, Edina
Tom Gainor – St. Joseph, West St. Paul
George Gmach – Mary, Queen of Peace, Rogers
Father Bill Kenney – retired clergy
Jane Schmidt – Highland Catholic School, St. Paul
Viviana Sotro – St. Stephen, Minneapolis
Deacon George Nugent – All Saints, Lakeville

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