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Beacons of Light: FAMILIES OF PARISHES: GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK!

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As the pastoral planning initiative Beacons of Light moves forward, Catholic Telegraph writers are meeting with its leaders to bring you the most up-to-date and accurate information on what is happening, describe how decisions will be made and providing clear descriptions of what to expect. This article series on Beacons of Light will appear in every issue of The Catholic Telegraph. Please visit beaconsaoc.org to sign up for the free Beacons Update newsletter.

As the Beacons of Light pastoral planning process continues, now is the time to offer your comments on the Family of Parishes draft. From Oct. 1-20 you can visit beaconsaoc.org and view the proposed grouping of parishes and provide feedback. This is the first opportunity for the lay faithful of the archdiocese to view the Families of Parishes draft.

While this is an important and needed next step in the Beacons of Light process, it is understandable that for many it will bring anxiety and trepidation as they wonder about the future of our beloved parishes. Knowing that, this may be a good time to review the reasons why the archdiocese is embarking on Beacons of Light.

• Religious practice has been declining in both the U.S. and in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. From 2010 to 2019, sacramental practice (including baptisms, first communions, confirmations and weddings) in the archdiocese declined by about 20-percent.

• Our current infrastructure and schedules were built for a different era. In many cases, our church buildings are grossly underutilized. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the average Sunday Mass is about one-third full.

• Our resources are largely consumed by efforts to maintain the status quo and are spread too thin to be truly effective. In particular, our priests are stretched to the limit and we will have fewer priests who can serve as pastors over the coming years. The number of archdiocesan priests available for assignment is projected to decline by approximately 20-percent over the next five years.

Moving from maintenance to mission is at the very core of Beacons of Light. Our parishes exist to serve the great commission of Christ: to go out and make disciples of all nations. Our parishes should thrive, not just survive.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “The parish is a beacon that radiates the light of faith and thus responds to the deepest and truest desires of the human heart, giving meaning and hope to the lives of individuals and families.” Forming these Families of Parishes is the first step to ensure our parishes are the Beacons of Light they are meant to be, and your feedback is a critical component to finalizing the plan.

As you visit beaconsaoc.org and view the plan for the Families of Parishes, here are five ways to ensure your feedback helps our parishes thrive, not just survive:

1. Pray for Mary’s intercession for the entire Beacons of Light process and for a personal spirit of docility as you view the proposed plan of Families of Parishes.

Docility isn’t a virtue that gets much airtime these days. The idea of being open, meek of heart, willing to learn or compliant flies in the face of a modern culture that tells us to challenge, object, stand up and cry out. But docility – being willing and ready to be taught or guided – is a hallmark of Catholic spirituality, as perfectly exemplified in the Blessed Virgin Mary.

2. View the map.

When you visit beaconsaoc.org, a popup will give you immediate access to a map of the proposed Families of Parishes. You can type the name of your parish into the search box to find which proposed Family your parish may ultimately belong to, or you can zoom in on the map to your parish’s location.

3. Complete the feedback form.

On the right side of your screen, you will see the feedback form. Input your information and your feedback, then click submit. There is no space limit on the feedback form. This is your time to let your voice be heard.

4. Subscribe to the Beacons Update newsletter.

While the Beacons of Light team will not be able to respond to every piece of feedback individually, they will read and consider every submitted feedback form. Make sure you check the box to subscribe to Beacons Update when you submit your form. Beacons Update is the best way to stay up-to-date on the Beacons of Light process.

5. Trust in the Holy Spirit.

This is a great time to pray that God equips each of our hearts and minds with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we set out on this new path together as an archdiocese.

“May it be done to me according to your word.” These words from Mary’s fiat in Luke 1:38 remind us that Beacons of Light is not the plan of any one person. It is God’s plan. The future of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is in God’s control. Let us move forward in a spirit of docility and work to advance God’s mission in whatever way He asks of us.

Ensure you are part of the Beacons of Light process by subscribing to Beacons Update at beaconsaoc.org. View the timeline, be informed and get involved in the process by giving feedback.

This article is in the October 2021 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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