The Strategic Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of St. Cloud "to 2010 and Beyond" is truly a milestone in the history of our diocese and in the life of the church in central Minnesota. In this planning, we are invited to respond to some of the most exciting challenges and opportunities the church has faced since the changes that followed the Second Vatican Council.
Over the past two years, we have gathered a tremendous amount of data from every parish in our diocese. I am grateful for the time so many of you have taken to share your thoughts in the diocesan planning process. The result is the "Diocese of St. Cloud's Strategic Pastoral Plan "to 2010 and Beyond." The very substantial changes outlined in this plan will provide guidance in the next 10 years, and create a foundation to strengthen our commitment to Christ and the church.
To create this plan, we have analyzed rural population shifts, urban sprawl, the decline in the numbers of ordained priests and the increased numbers of parish staff. We recognize our diocese will continue to enjoy growing diversity as we "Open Wide the Doors for Christ!"
Parishioners asked that we close as few parishes as possible. Our priests voiced the strong desire to serve as pastors in existing faith communities rather than in merged "mega-parishes." Consequently, only four parishes are recommended to close or combine with neighboring parishes. We also project that many parishes will need to work collaboratively with others, even cooperating in the scheduling of weekend Masses so that all Catholics will continue to have the opportunity for Sunday Eucharist.
As these changes are implemented, new staffing models will involve more people who are interested in serving Christ on pastoral teams. I am very encouraged about the men and women who will be working in our parishes as committed staff and volunteers.
This is truly an exciting and challenging time. Eight candidates for the diaconate began their formation last fall. In this past year, five young men from our diocese began studies for the priesthood. The Holy Spirit is working in profound ways. It gives us much to celebrate as we anticipate the feast of Pentecost this Sunday.
Pray for vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. Our 10-year plan includes provisions for an additional 20 ordinations. We can and must place great trust in the Holy Spirit to stir the hearts of children in every family to serve the church. Each parish should foster a vocation in these next 10 years.
Finally, I ask you again to hold the mission of our diocese within your heart, to believe in and proclaim the presence of Jesus Christ in our world, to be his heart of mercy, voice of hope and hands of justice. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our hearts and our actions.
John F. Kinney,
Bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud
..."A Shepherd's Care" taken from Bishop Kinney's letter, June, 2000.
After prayer and dialogue, the parishes St. Rita in Hillman, Holy Cross in Onamia, St. Therese in Vineland and Sacred Heart in Wahkon are asked to join in a four- parish cluster. It is recommended that this four-parish faith community be staffed by a pastor with weekend help from priests of the Crosier Priory in Onamia. These parishes are also encouraged to share a pastoral associate or a full-time deacon and a youth minister to serve the needs of the parishioners in these clustered parishes. Collaborative staffing should also be considered in the areas of faith formation and religious education, parish nursing/outreach and support services. St. Therese Parish may be asked to schedule Masses on alternate weekends with other parishes in this cluster.
Through dialog, prayer and cooperation the parishes of St. Rita's, St. Therese, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart can meet Bishop Kinney's vision. Under the guidance of the Crosier Community these churches will continue to share common resources while still maintaining each parishes' unique identity.