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A strategic plan involves discerning long-term goals, adopting courses of action, and allocating the necessary resources to help accomplish the goals. For the Church, this occurs primarily in a spiritual context linked to personal and parish renewal. As we at Epiphany Parish confront the challenges posed by our world today, we must ensure that our mission and activities (parish and school) adapt through creative, faith-filled strategic planning.
In the spring of 2010, a task force developed a strategic plan for Epiphany parish. Key strategic themes from the plan were communicated on our parish website and also made available in paper form to those without internet access. Our first order of business was the formation of a Pastoral Council to guide the implementation of the plan and serve as an ongoing advisory panel to Monsignor on parish Pastoral items. As a reminder, strategic planning is an ongoing process and not a one-time event. As such, the Pastoral Council will follow a Plan → Do → Check → Act process cycle that will incorporate minor modifications to our plan regularly and include broader reviews of the plan on a less frequent basis (i.e. every few years.) Our plan reflects your input gathered from focus groups and surveys in the fall of 2009 guided by our parish mission and vision:
Mission Statement: We are a Catholic family, living our awareness of Christ's presence through worship, service, formation and community. Vision: Our vision is to live committed, faithful lives according to our Catholic faith, in the ordinary circumstances of every day and in the responsibilities entrusted to us by God.
Our strategic plan is comprised of three strategic imperatives along with several additional miscellaneous objectives that have defined as: Strategic Imperative 1: Enhance Religious Education Programs and Activities. Strategic Imperative 2: Improve Parish Communications and Outreach. Strategic Imperative 3: Increase Engagement of Parishioners with Parish.
As part of developing a strategic plan for our parish, several survey processes have been employed.
1. The external analysis looked at strategic plans for several parishes across the country that are similar to Epiphany in terms of size and demographics.
2. The internal analysis included the focus groups and surveys that gathered input from our parishioners.
The results of the internal analysis, the focus groups and surveys have provided excellent insight into our parish. This document provides a summary of the findings and the next steps of the planning process.
Key Strengths show areas where Epiphany is doing well. The Key Strengths include:
1. Satisfaction: Epiphany parishioners expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the parish.
2. Recommendations - The majority of Epiphany parishioners would recommend Epiphany parish to others.
3. Priests - The surveys included a large number of positive written responses complementing the priests.
4. Friendly atmosphere – A high number of Epiphany parishioners value the friendliness of fellow parishioners and cited this in written responses as a strength of the parish.
5. Adoration Chapel - Parishioners like having an adoration chapel. This was cited in both survey results and also in focus group responses.
6. Parish Carnival - Many Epiphany parishioners enjoy the carnival.
Key Opportunities show areas where Epiphany parish may want to consider alternative options. Some key opportunities include:
1. Youth formation – The focus groups and surveys indicated a desire for enhanced religious education programs and activities for youth. Suggestions ranged from additional outreach for LifeTeen, enhancing the CCD curriculum, and additional “fun” activities, field trips and community outreach activities for all groups.
2. Improved parish communications - Results indicate a need for a quality parish website as another communication delivery channel. This included a strong interest in programs or activities to help others within our parish and within our community. Focus group results indicate a potential gap in understanding what programs and services are currently in place at Epiphany. A gap assessment of parishioner interests and existing programs within and outside of Epiphany should be done as a first step prior to expanding Epiphany programs to help others. Suggestions were also made to consider expanding the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as well as email based communications where appropriate.
3. Re-establish parish pastoral council - Survey results indicate a desire to re-establish a parish council. Parishioners would like to have more input in parish activities and initiatives. Parishioners feel like there is a good amount of financial transparency. During focus groups, some
parishioners expressed uncertainty about some aspects of parish finances including items such as endowments, the annual stewardship appeal, and how Epiphany finances and diocese finances are related.
· Requests to provide the ability to contribute to Epiphany using direct deposit (or online payment) should be considered.
· Focus group feedback and written responses from the parishioner survey expressed a desire to enhance our music program.
· Focus group feedback and written responses from the parishioner survey expressed a desire to hold confirmation at Epiphany Church instead of in Peoria. Moving confirmation to a weekend is another suggestion that was cited in addition to changing the location.
· The majority of parishioners (80%) have attended Fellowship Sunday at least once. However, Fellowship Sunday received a low priority in the survey. Survey results indicate an interest in having Fellowship Sunday onsite at the Parish.
Over the next two months, the Strategic Planning Committee will work with existing parish organizations to share details of the internal and external analyses, determine priority initiatives, and establish definitive
plans for incorporating the highest priority suggestions.
When God called St. Francis to "rebuild" his Church, the Saint took it literally and thought he was meant to repair a run down chapel near Assisi. But of course the real call was to repair the larger Church by his personal witness of the Gospel. Strategic Planning with a goal of reforming or renewing the Church begins with our own change of heart, humility and willingness to serve.
"The Church sees signs of immense promise in her many strong parishes and vital movements, in the enthusiasm for the faith shown by so many young people, in the number of those who each year embrace the Catholic faith, and in a greater interest in prayer and catechesis. At the same time she senses, often painfully, the presence of division and polarization in her midst, as well as the troubling realization that many of the baptized, rather than acting as a spiritual leaven in the world, are inclined to embrace attitudes contrary to the truth of the Gospel."
"'Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!' (cf. Ps 104:30). Today let us pray fervently that the Church in America will be renewed in that same Spirit, and sustained in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel to a world that longs for genuine freedom (cf. Jn 8:32), authentic happiness, and the fulfillment of its deepest aspirations!"
From a homily by Pope Benedict XVI, Maryland April 2008