Renew My Church

FAQ

What is Renew My Church?

Jesus Christ calls us to constantly renew His Church. Renew My Church is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s response to His call and our invitation for renewal.

Called by Jesus Christ, we are making disciples, building communities and inspiring witness.

Renew My Church fosters belonging, particularly among young people, and invites them to have a true, intentional encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Renew My Church supports vibrant parishes and schools that are life giving and sustain and form existing and new members. Renew My Church asks us to come together in solidarity and bring the light and hope of Jesus Christ to a world in need.

 

Have other dioceses done this type of renewal process successfully?

Our approach to the Renew My Church grouping and discernment process has been informed by the good practices of other dioceses and incorporate resources and actions to fill in gaps other dioceses experienced. Specific dioceses the archdiocese has learned from are Boston, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, New York and Detroit.

 

Why don’t we bring in priests from other countries to stem the priest shortage?

The Cardinal has challenged us to really look at how we foster vocations in our diocese and country. Fact is that in the countries from which priests have come in the past, the number of Catholics per priest is much higher than here.

 

Wasn’t there a survey about Renew My Church in 2016? What happened with that?

There was a diocesan-wide survey open during Easter 2016. The survey helped inform the pastoral priorities of Evangelization, Vocations, and Leadership, as well as the discussions about which communities should be together in a grouping.

 

Grouping and Discernment Process Questions

What is the grouping and discernment process of Renew My Church?

Renewal is a process. It requires, envisioning, planning, new methods and new means to bring Jesus Christ to others. There are nearly 100 groupings of parishes and schools across the archdiocese. Each grouping will engage in a process to address necessary questions of structure, how to work together across communities within the grouping, and to establish a strong foundation for vitality through focused evangelization and faith formation efforts.

 

How were groupings determined?

Groupings were determined through a consultative process in 2016 that included feedback and input from archdiocesan and parish leadership, including vicars, deans, pastors, parish councils and lay leadership.

 

How many different groupings are there in the Archdiocese?

There are about 100 groupings in the Archdiocese of Chicago. All parishes and schools have been assigned a grouping based on geography (the parishes and schools are relatively close in proximity), similar communities served and other commonalities and affinities (i.e. parishioners occasionally attend Mass at more than one parish in the grouping). 

 

What are the steps involved in the discernment process?

The purpose of this grouping and discernment process is to provide Cardinal Cupich with as much feedback and information as possible to make final decisions regarding potential changes to school and parish structures.

During the grouping and discernment process, the archdiocese will provide each grouping a set of initial scenarios that show potential models of how parishes and schools in that grouping could be configured in the future. These initial scenarios are conversation starters. No decisions have been made. Each grouping is then asked to provide feedback on the initial scenarios from the archdiocese and propose alternative scenarios and configuration models.

After each grouping has reflected and discussed the scenarios, the grouping will submit a report to the archdiocese with its feedback and alternative scenarios. An archdiocesan commission will review the report and make a final recommendation to Cardinal Cupich.

Cardinal Cupich will make final decisions regarding potential changes to school and parish structures based on the recommendations and information he has received from each grouping and the archdiocesan commission.

 

Will our church or school close?

The purpose of this grouping and discernment process is to provide Cardinal Cupich with as much feedback and information as possible to make final decisions regarding potential changes to school and parish structures. No decisions have been made.

 

How many parishes and schools are going to close?

There is not a targeted number of closures. The archdiocese has a resource limitation that impacts all groupings, which is that we expect no more than 240 priests to be ready, willing, and able to serve as pastors by the year 2030 – about 100 fewer pastors than today. This does not mean 100 parishes will close, however. What we will do through the process is evaluate how to organize our parishes with the reality of fewer pastors.

 

Is this really a process that has meaning or are the scenarios a foregone conclusion? How much impact will we actually have?

To set proper expectations, Cardinal Cupich has the responsibility to make final decisions. However, he needs the input of local communities to understand which possibilities will be best for the future.

During the grouping and discernment process, the archdiocese will provide each grouping a set of initial scenarios that show potential models of how parishes and schools in that grouping could be configured in the future. These initial scenarios are conversation starters. No decisions have been made. Each grouping is then asked to provide feedback on the initial scenarios from the archdiocese and propose alternative scenarios and configuration models.

 

How are the initial scenarios developed?

The initial scenarios are developed using the foundational principles for viability, archdiocesan context such as the number of pastors available for the future, and local data available to the archdiocese. The archdiocese’s planning office works with each vicar’s team to develop the initial scenarios.

 

Who is on the archdiocesan commission? Is it the same commission for all groupings?

The archdiocesan commission includes 20 people:

  • Two non-priest representatives from each of the archdiocese’s six vicariates (12 people)
  • A representative from each of the Archdiocese’s Pastoral Council, Finance Council, and School Board (three people)
  • Three priest representatives (three people)
  • Vicar General and Chief Operating Officer (two people)

It is one archdiocesan commission for all groupings. An important role of the commission is to ensure consistency in approach across all groupings.

 

If a parish closes or merges, what happens to the parish’s money?

The assets and liabilities of a parish that closes or merges follow the people to the parish that receives responsibility for the pastoral care of the people.

  • If Parish A and Parish B merge and become Parish C, the assets and liabilities of Parishes A and B become the assets and liabilities of new Parish C.
  • If Parish A closes and merges into Parish B, the assets and liabilities of Parish A become part of Parish B.
  • When directed donations are involved (e.g., capital campaign funds), the guiding principle is to respect donor intent.

 

What happens to the pastors and priests if two parishes merge into one parish?

It is not predetermined. In some cases, one of the two pastors may be the pastor of the one parish. But in some cases, a priest not currently in one of the parishes will be assigned to be pastor of the one parish.

 

What happened with the Renew My Church pilot groupings?

The pilot groupings in West Humboldt Park and the North Shore area have just concluded their local meetings. Decisions are not yet finalized, but will be by the end of 2017.