By Rayanne Bennett | Associate Publisher

Now that Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., has announced his decisions regarding parish planning and strengthening, the diocesan-led Faith in Our Future process is moving into its next phase – implementation.

Gearing up in much the same way that the initial consultation process unfolded in the fall of 2015, the newest phase will begin with the formation of parish-based implementation teams selected by the pastor.  The teams, each consisting of four lay, non-staff parishioners and the pastor, are currently being formed, in preparation for workshops and training sessions that will begin in February and run through May.

While implementation teams will function and consult at times at the parish-level, the bulk of their efforts will be spent working as Cohorts – the groups of three to five neighboring parishes upon which the FIOF recommendations and decisions were based.  Msgr. Leonard F. Troiano, episcopal vicar for diocesan planning, said that the Cohorts will be charged with developing a year-over-year action plan, for a period of three years, that will ensure that the Bishop’s decisions for those parishes are fulfilled.

“Bishop has indicated what has to happen.  It is now up to the implementation teams to determine how they will achieve what has been asked of them,” Msgr. Troiano explained.

The method that was used to develop suggestions, and ultimately, recommendations for parish changes will be mirrored in the implementation phase.  The action plans developed by the Cohorts will be submitted to the Implementation Commission, which will review and determine their viability and give feedback to the Cohorts. 

“The Commission will be paying close attention to what is achievable for the year ahead in terms of planning -- that the Cohorts are being realistic.  And especially that they are effectively working toward the new realities that were requested by the Bishop,” Msgr. Troiano said.

To assist the Cohorts in meeting this responsibility, a Diocesan Project Management Team has been formed.  Each Cohort will be supported by a member of this new team, made up of six individuals with professional experience in the areas of strategic planning and project management.

Officially released by the Bishop on diocesan digital media Jan. 25, the decisions called for a range of new models for selected locations, including merger, linkage, the suspension of operations in a few churches, and the designation of Centers for Cultural Ministry.  All of the Diocese’s 107 parishes were asked to enter into a collaborative relationship with their neighboring parishes.  Implementation team members will learn about the formation of Multi-Parish Ministries as part of the preparation for their action plan.

To learn more about the Faith in Our Future process in the Diocese, go to