Thanks to tremendous philanthropic generosity, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has committed to the hard work of fostering vibrant parishes in their faith community via Catholic Leadership Institute’s Next Generation Parish (NGP) four-year endeavor.

With grateful hearts, CLI shares the progress of the Eastside Family of parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which includes St. Mary (Hyde Park), St. Cecilia (Cincinnati), St. Anthony (Cincinnati), and St. Margaret-St. John (Cincinnati). Families of parishes are groups of typically 3-6 parishes in a geographic area that combine to work together with shared clergy, resources, and mission.

After progressing through the Prepare Phase of Next Generation Parish (NGP) that incudes data collection, site visits, listening session, and Catholic Leadership Institute’s Disciple Maker Index (DMI) survey, the Eastside Family embarked on the Envisioning Phase of NGP this past July.

Parish Team Envisions Their Future

Fr. Jamie Weber has been a passionate leader from the onset of this work. The Envisioning Phase is where the parish leaders work to synthesize the data they received as a means to build a pastoral plan for the parish. During this phase, Fr. Jamie surrounded himself with a dedicated and passionate Envisioning Team. The team has already conducted four of the six Envisioning sessions, demonstrating their commitment to fostering a strong and united community.

During the initial session, the team meticulously analyzed the DMI data collected in early 2023 for the parish family. There were differences in responses amongst the three parishes, which will need to be considered throughout the NGP process. While it will provide some challenges, the Envisioning Team is committed to grow as a unified family. To become more unified and to strengthen the family overall, the Team will need to articulate a clear vision and then communicate it to the family. 

“A Ministry-Changing Litmus Test”

Haley Metzger, Director of Adult Faith Formation and Young Adult Ministry for the Eastside Family of Parishes and member of the Envisioning Team has this to say about the power and importance of the Disciple Maker Index survey in the NGP process, “The DMI has been a ministry-changing litmus test that has allowed us to create a more intentional, impactful, and integrated strategic plan in a data-driven way. We are confident that we will see how each of the steps we take will remedy issues revealed by the DMI.”

Data Drives a Clear Route Forward

Some of the more positive highlights of the DMI include that:

  • 64% of parishioners across all parishes expressed their inclination to recommend Fr. Jamie to others, highlighting his influence and rapport within the community. When parishioners recommend their pastor, they are 11x more likely to recommend their parish.
  • An overwhelming majority in all three parishes (93% at St. Cecilia, 87% at St. Mary and 94% at the Oratory of St. John Vianney) affirmed their belief in Scripture as the Word of God, reflecting the deep spiritual resonance within the congregation. 
  • The DMI also acknowledged discrepancies in communication effectiveness among the parishes, with 54% of respondents at St. Cecilia's finding information easily accessible compared to 31% at St. Mary's and 18% at the Oratory of St. John Vianney. Communications will be a major focus during the NGP process and significant work will be undertaken to create a sustainable plan. 

The Pulse of the People in the Pews

While Fr. Jamie and the Envisioning Team had a good sense of the pulse of the congregation, the DMI provided them with a clear path forward and areas that needed significant improvement. These insights spurred the team to identify five key values driving their collective efforts, including: (1) a commitment to Magisterium alignment, (2) the pursuit of holiness, (3) an unwavering Catholic passion, (4) teamwork, and (5) reliable communication. 

Recognizing the need to consolidate their efforts and foster unity within the family, the Envisioning Team outlined four major areas of opportunity.

  • They emphasized the integration of priests and religious sisters into the educational sphere, aspiring to deepen their engagement with the school community.
  • The team also advocated for the development of a comprehensive communication strategy, emphasizing the importance of effective information dissemination.
  • They highlighted the significance of increased formation opportunities to bolster parishioners' confidence in Church teachings and equip them for effective evangelization.
  • The Envisioning Team emphasized the importance of nurturing a profound personal connection between parishioners and Christ, underscoring the spiritual growth and enrichment of the congregation as a whole. 

Full Speed Ahead

Looking ahead to 2024, the team remains resolute in their pursuit of progress, with three upcoming sessions dedicated to refining their top priorities and establishing SMART goals for each identified area. The team remains grateful for the support, philanthropy, and enthusiasm that underscores their deep appreciation for the collective efforts and commitment of the Eastside Family of Parishes. 

The unwavering dedication of Father Jamie and his volunteers, combined with philanthropic support has allowed this ministry to keep chugging along, exploring a path to new growth, and speeding down the expressway to a strong future.

To read more about Catholic Leadership Institute’s work in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the dedicated donors who are making this work possible, CLICK HERE.

by Chad Peddicord

November 08, 2023

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