Here are some of the more frequently asked questions. As the initiative grows, more will be added to this page. Have more specific questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Consultation Process?
The word “consult” means to seek advice or information from; ask guidance from; to have regard for (a person’s interest, convenience, etc.) in making plan; and to consider or deliberate; to make counsel; confer. The Diocese of Columbus is embarking upon a consultation process to help determine the future plans of the Diocese as part of the Real Presence, Real Future planning.
As part of this ongoing strategic process, the Diocese will be hosting Consultation Sessions for each parish September through November. Two Parish Consultation Sessions will be held in a virtual format via Zoom for each parish in the Diocese. Local volunteer facilitators will guide parishioners through important statistical and sacramental information relevant to the Diocese as a whole, parishes in surrounding areas, and individual parish information. Parishioner participation in these sessions is critical to help shape the future of the Diocese of Columbus.
Why are these sessions an important part of the planning process?
The Parish Consultation Sessions are a vital part of the planning process whereby parishioners are encouraged to offer insights and perspective on draft plans and options for collaboration in the future. The feedback provided from these sessions will be used to draft new models for review by clergy and key parish leaders in early 2022. This consultation process will continue throughout 2022 until final recommendations are made by the Commission on Planning to Bishop Brennan for his discernment. The draft models presented to parishioners at the Fall sessions are simply a starting point. No decisions have been made regarding any parish and none will be made until feedback is gathered directly form parishioners through this consultation process.
What is a parish “draft model”?
A draft model is a description of how a parish or area of parishes could potentially look in the future with regard to physical structures, organization, staff and ministerial strategies. There are 12 local planning areas, or natural geographic regions, with 5-15 parishes. These models will be created with the needs of these regions in mind, including history, geography, and neighborhoods.
The Real Presence Real Future team is developing various models of how parishes and ministry can be organized, but these are meant to be unfinished starting points for discussion. Feedback from the parishes and other diocesan leaders will shape the final recommendation to Bishop Brennan.
What do the draft models take into account?
- All of the people in the 12 planning areas to whom we need to bring the love and message of Jesus.
- Opportunities for evangelization so that the Church may grow in a particular geographic area.
- Pastoral care of the needs of those who are members of each parish within the planning area.
- Financial viability so that every parish can be sustained into the future.
- Clergy distribution so that each parish can have an assigned priest, both now and in the future.
- Accessibility, parking and other physical plant considerations so that the parishes are able to welcome and serve all who come.
Sources of data for these criteria include parish annual reports and financial data, the church-related demographics service MissionInsite, and information from the Clergy office.
What could new models of parish ministry look like?
A “model” is a description of how a district could potentially look in the future with respect to:
- Parish structure including church buildings and Mass times
- Ministerial strategies including evangelization, stewardship, worship, school configurations
- All institutional ministries within the planning area
- Leadership structures, including clergy and lay staffing
- Catechetical strategies that will be developed to strengthen religious education programs/adult formation.
Also, keep in mind:
- These models are meant to be unfinished so that feedback and input can be given on them.\
- These models are meant to be a starting place. Input from parishioners and other diocesan leaders throughout the consultation process will help refine them with their feedback.\
- There is no perfect model. Each model addresses different challenges with different degrees of effectiveness.
What is the timeline for the Consultation Process and for Bishop Brennan to make his decisions?
The Consultation Process begins in September 2021 with the Parish Consultation Sessions. The feedback provided from the Parish Consultation Session will be used to draft new models for review by clergy and key parish leaders in early 2022. This consultation process will continue throughout 2022 until final models are approved. No decisions have been made regarding any parish and none will be made until feedback is gathered directly form parishioners through this consultation process. Most likely, final models will be presented to Bishop Brennan during the Summer of 2022.
What will guide these recommendations made to Bishop Brennan?
- Recommendations will be made in light of increasing the Real Presence of Christ and the Gospel preached everywhere it needs to be in the Diocese of Columbus.
- Recommendations will be directed toward the growth of missionary disciples, parishes, and schools.
- Recommendations will call us to have the courage to be who we are to be in Christ and to implement necessary changes increase the Real Presence of Christ and the message of the Gospel and grow our local Church.
Will any parishes, church buildings and schools close or merge at the end of this planning process?
Yes, this is a possibility. However, it is not known at this time which ones. This is a consultative process. The feedback received during the consultation phase will help to determine new models, including the structures, for parishes and schools. Buildings need to support the ministry of the parish, and the Sunday Liturgy is the center of our lives as Catholics.
Are average parishioners involved in this planning process?
Each pastor was asked to recommend up to five parishioners to serve as Key Parish Leaders. Collaborating with the pastor and councils of the parish, these Key Parish Leaders serve as ambassadors to their fellow parishioners concerning Real Presence, Real Future and as ambassadors of the parish to the Real Presence, Real Future Commission.
The Key Parish Leaders of every parish have four primary responsibilities:
- Publicize and support the Real Presence, Real Future planning initiative in their daily interactions so that as many people as possible are invited to participate.
- Refine the description of their parish provided by the Real Presence, Real Future leaders so that the baseline for discussion about future change is as accurate as possible.
- Participate in Parish Consultation Sessions within their planning area and give feedback to the Real Presence, Real Future Commission regarding future models of parish life.
- Support Parish Consultation Sessions to inform parishioners about the planning initiative and obtain their feedback on future models of parish life.
The Key Parish Leaders have not had any role in creating the draft models nor do they have the responsibility to make any decisions.
Why can’t we bring priests from another country and keep our parishes as they are?
Generations ago, when the United States was new mission territory, many priests came to help from Catholic countries that had an abundance of priests. Today most of those countries have a priest shortage. In fact, despite the decline from the all-time high numbers of priests in the mid-Twentieth century, the United States still has one of the best priest-to-parishioner ratios in the world. It would be unjust to take priests from other countries simply because we feel we should have them. It is not a long-term solution. Additionally, there are financial and cultural challenges involved in finding and integrating priests into the life of the Church here in the United States.
Why can’t we use religious order priests and keep our parishes as they are?
Most religious orders in the United States are also experiencing a decline in numbers.
What is the New Evangelization?
The New Evangelization is the Church’s call for us to bring the love, mercy and message of Jesus to everyone, including baptized Catholics who may no longer participate in Church life. It is re-telling the story of Jesus and how in God’s plan all people are invited to intimacy and relationship with the Lord. We must invite those who have left our pews to come back and find new ways to address their questions about God.
Pope Paul VI coined the term in his document Evangelization in the Modern World; Pope St. John Paul II explicitly called for a New Evangelization; Pope Benedict provided the framework for how we should engage in this New Evangelization; and Pope Francis is our example of how to live it out. Real Presence, Real Future is part of our diocese’s response to the call of the New Evangelization.
What does an evangelizing parish look like?
Everything a parish does should focus on the goal of evangelizing unbelievers and making believers into missionary disciples who will follow Jesus in their daily lives. Parishes are meant to be active communities, moving people closer to Christ through all that they do, especially through the Sacraments. An evangelizing parish engages parishioners and non-parishioners, invests valuable time and resources in them, and invites them into closer relationship with Christ.
An evangelizing parish does not necessarily offer more programs. Rather, it encourages the faithful to be active, engaged, and intentional missionary disciples of Jesus. An evangelizing parish promotes personal prayer and deeper Christian witness. An evangelizing parish is where people learn Jesus, love Jesus and live Jesus, and then go out to share His love with others.
These twin goals of discipleship and evangelization should pervade parish activities, including social events, faith formation, the promotion of vocations, liturgical and sacramental life, and service and charitable endeavors.
What is the Diocese of Columbus doing to specially promote evangelization as part of the Real Presence, Real Future planning process?
In the winter of 2019, Bishop Brennan established the Committee for the New Evangelization. The committee partnered with the Catholic Leadership Institute in the summer of 2020 to begin work on the planning of six priorities for evangelization in the Diocese of Columbus including:
- Renewal of parishes as a place of formation for missionary disciples.
- Ongoing formation of schools’ staff and faculty as missionary disciples.
- Evangelization of all the higher educational centers in the Diocese.
- Use of social and digital media for evangelization.
- Support and utilization of lay missionaries and apostolates.
- Development of a soft-entry evangelization center for outreach to seculars and “nones.”
Each subcommittee developed a plan to address their particular priority from September 2020 to March 2021, gathering data and insights, investigating options and models, and developing budgets and timelines. After some revisions, the plans were presented in the final form to Bishop Brennan on May 17, 2021.
The plans call for three to five years of investments and implementation to transform the Diocese of Columbus into a national leader in the work of evangelization. Evangelization planning is both at the heart and spearpoint of the Real Presence, Real Future initiative. As the RPRF process assesses the current Diocesan and parish resources and future needs, the evangelization plans provide the framework and strategy for increasing the Church’s presence for the future.
Each subcommittee plan is on a different timeline, and each requires different and significant budget priorities. Currently, planning and fundraising efforts are underway to assist the launching of each plan as soon as possible. Once the resources are in place, each subcommittee plan will begin the implementation phase.
What is Catholic Leadership Institute, and what role do they play in all of this?
Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) is working with the Diocese of Columbus to assist with the creation and leadership of the Real Presence, Real Future planning process. CLI is a non-profit apostolate that works with numerous dioceses nationally and internationally, helping bishops to build diocesan teams, training parish leaders, and assisting in the development of strategic plans. Because of CLI’s skills, its focus on evangelization, and its knowledge of the Church, Bishop Brennan contracted CLI through a grant provided to the Diocese of Columbus to lead the Real Presence, Real Future planning process. CLI has supported processes like this in other dioceses and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this important initiative.
What is the RPRP Commission and what is their role?
The RPRF Commission, composed of representatives from around the Diocese of Columbus, will oversee the process of recommending to Bishop Brennan how parishes and schools can best deliver vibrant sacramental celebration, effective formation for discipleship, and compassionate pastoral care in the context of changing circumstances, including demographics, financial conditions, and the projected number of priests. They have the important responsibility of reviewing all of the draft models and gathered feedback from the priests, deacons, religious, and lay faithful so they can submit a recommendation to Bishop Brennan. The RPRF Commission members serve also as ambassadors of the planning initiative to their fellow parishioners in the geographic areas they represent.
The RPRF Commission members have five primary responsibilities:
- Discern, discuss, and advise Bishop Brennan on strategic questions and opportunities for the Real Presence, Real Future planning initiative.
- Validate and/or offer refinement to the draft plans provided throughout the process so that the process is based on authenticity and transparency.
- Attend consultation sessions to gather feedback on planning models.
- Publicize and support the Real Presence, Real Future planning initiative in their daily interactions so that as many people as possible can receive the invitation to participate in the process. Support Bishop Brennan’s decision and be hopeful and Gospel-centered witnesses as the People of God move toward Real Presence, Real Future in the Diocese of Columbus!
To view a list of RPRF Commission members, click here.
What is the Disciple Maker Index (DMI) Survey?
The Disciple Maker Index is a 75-question national baseline survey designed to provide an opportunity for parishioners to reflect on their individual spiritual growth and overall parish effectiveness. More than 82,000 Catholics at 366 parishes throughout 21 dioceses have taken the DMI since 2013, providing not just valuable data for each parish, but for the Church nationally, as well.
When was the DMI administered in the Diocese of Columbus?
The DMI was administered in the Diocese of Columbus during Lent 2021 and more than 20,000 Catholics in the Diocese completed the survey.
When will the DMI results become available?
Diocesan-wide and parish-specific results were made available in June 2021. Parish-specific results were shared individually by each parish, and diocesan-wide results were shared via the website and the June 20 edition of the Catholic Times. This data is being used to determine how each parish and the Diocese as a whole can increase the Real Presence of Christ throughout the Diocese of Columbus in the coming years.
How can I access my parish's results?
Each pastor and his designated parish team received the results in May 2021. After the results were reviewed and understood, each parish published their results to parishioners in June and July 2021.
Will diocesan-wide results be available?
Diocesan-wide results are available on the RPRF website. The results were sent to parishes as a handout for parishioners in June 2021, in addition to related articles in the June 20 edition of the Catholic Times.
The RPRF initiative includes planning for evangelization and missionary discipleship formation. What areas are being addressed?
One of the primary components of the RPRF initiative is the creation of six area-focused evangelization plans meant to act as road maps for the Diocese to increase the Real Presence of Christ throughout Central Ohio. Most plans are meant to be implemented in stages over the next three to five years and will require additional infrastructure and funding to be accomplished. Plans focus on the following areas:
University and Higher Education Campus Ministry
Social and Digital Media for Evangelization
Parish Missionary Discipleship Formation
Lay Missionary Presence Through the Diocese
Catholic School Personnel Discipleship Formation
Soft Entry Evangelization Center for the “Non-Affiliated”
When will the evangelization plans be implemented?
These plans have been presented to Bishop Brennan for review. Many considerations such as funding, facilities, staff, and time will to be carefully considered for the implementation of these plans. Most plans will be implemented in stages over three to five years beginning later in 2021.
What focus-areas will be addressed?
We are looking at all facets of our diocesan and parish life including key areas such as parish life, evangelization, social + digital communications, colleges + universities, Catholic schools, and diocesan structures.
How will this include all of the faithful?
This consultative process will generate feedback in a variety of ways, such as the RPRF Commission, made up of lay and clergy from across the diocese. Additionally, pastors will choose leaders at each parish in the diocese to work with the Commission. Regional consultation sessions will take place to hear ideas and concerns, and parishioners will be invited to take the Disciple Maker Index survey.
When does this start?
This much anticipated initiative is already underway through prayer and preparation. Throughout Lent, we invite all Catholics to take part in 40 Days of Adoration which began on Ash Wednesday, and to participate in Reconciliation on Monday, March 29, the Monday of Holy Week, by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation available at most parishes from 4-7 pm.
What is Real Presence, Real Future?
Real Presence, Real Future is a two-year diocesan-wide consultative process that invites participation from clergy, lay ecclesial ministers, parish volunteers, and all the faithful. By listening to the needs of our people and hearing your ideas, concerns and desires, this process will help determine the best path forward to increase the presence of the Church throughout the Diocese of Columbus.
What is the purpose of this initiative?
The purpose is to:
• Reimagine how the Church serves her people throughout the diocese.
• Foster viable, sustainable, and vibrant parishes and schools that support the evangelizing mission of Jesus Christ and His Church.
• Ensure we are serving effectively and preserve the faith for future generations.
Why is the Diocese doing this?
In short, we are called to increase the presence of Christ throughout the Diocese and uphold the Faith for future generations of Ohioans.