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Archdiocese's proposal of strategic plan being reviewed by priests ahead of listening sessions

The Archbishop of St. Louis says it's time to make some big changes that could impact your church and school.

ST. LOUIS — Update: The Archdiocese of St. Louis has scheduled listening sessions on the "All Things New" plan. For more information about the plan, click here. To sign up for one of the listening sessions, click here.

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The Archdiocese of St. Louis is in the beginning stages of restructuring.

For the last eight months, staff has been collecting data and feedback from the Catholic community. Now, a draft proposal of how the archdiocese will start to reinvent itself is complete.

The archdiocese’s restructuring process is called “All Things New.”

It will bring hard changes like school closures and parish mergers. But, it will also bring welcome changes like higher teacher salaries and more affordable tuition.

This first draft only addresses the parish piece of restructuring.

A draft proposal on how to restructure schools won’t be ready until 2023.

The current draft groups together which parishes should collaborate and which should possibly merge. Only priests are allowed to view the proposal for now.

Father Christopher Martin, the vicar of strategic planning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said priests are viewing the draft first because they know their parish community intimately and the archdiocese wants them to weigh in on the proposed changes.

“We have 30 pages of written feedback plus on a daily basis. I am getting more phone calls and emails daily from the priests,” said Martin.

The draft will be adjusted based on the priest’s feedback.

The next step in the process will include taking the revised draft and presenting it to 1,000 parishioners across the archdiocese that are serving as key parish leaders. They will see the draft in September and October.

October will also bring the promised 356 listening sessions. Representatives from the archdiocese will conduct at least two listening sessions at each parish. This will be the opportunity for all local Catholics to provide feedback on the proposed plan. 

Martin estimated that feedback will result in changing 30% of the proposal. Listening sessions will run from Oct. 8 until Nov. 17.  

Since the “All Things New” strategic plan was launched in January 2022, rumors have swirled in parish and archdiocesan school circles about what the final plan will entail. Everything from half the schools closing to hearsay the archdiocese has the final plan and just won’t release it yet. When asked about the multiple rumors, Martin said they are all false.

“There are no plans that have been decided on. I think where the anxiety comes from is that people look around and they recognize the struggles we are facing as a church, themselves," he said. "So, if I’m at a church that’s only 20% full on Sundays, if I’m at a school that I know is financially struggling and is half full and all of a sudden we start talking vibrancy as a church, I think people just start to get nervous and draw their own conclusions.”

Martin said the final “All Things New” plan will be announced in May of 2023. That is also when he expects the plan for consolidating parish schools will be released.

Martin confirmed there are no plans for listening sessions regarding the schools. The final school blueprint will be implemented for the 2023-2024 school year. Changes to other facets of the archdiocese may take up to three years to complete.

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