March 2013: Parish Restructuring for the 21st Century

In this Issue

Opening Remarks

The Reid Group has worked with many Catholic dioceses that want to organize their parishes and Chancery staff to best serve the needs of Catholics. Senior Consultants Maureen Gallagher and John Reid discuss a few things to keep in mind when a diocese is thinking about moving in this direction.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • The Reid Group is pleased to announce that Greg Cascione will be joining us as a new Senior Consultant this month. Greg brings 30 years of fundraising experience and will focus on expanding our Fund Development services. As he says, “I am looking forward to building on the excellent foundation for Fund Development that already exists at the Reid Group, working with a fantastic team, applying my thirty years of experience to the Reid Group’s terrific clients, and expanding the client base.”
  • Maureen Gallagher and John Reid will be facilitating a number of gatherings of religious communities in the next few months: the Sisters of the Humility of Mary assembly March 7-14, the Mercy West/Midwest assembly April 3-7, and the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity chapter meeting May 19-20.
  • The Catholic Health Association has contracted with The Reid Group to conduct a salary survey of Mission Leaders.
  • We have been hired to conduct searches for two Catholic health care facilities in California: a Vice President for Mission Integration for Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, and a Vice President of Mission Integration for St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka.
  • Lucien Roy has been asked by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities to facilitate a meeting of 20 college presidents and Board members in San Francisco on April 21.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us ane-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

Quotes for Inspiration and Action

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
Maria Robinson

Wonder is not a Pollyanna stance, not a denial of reality; wonder is an acknowledgment of the power of the mind to transform.
Christina Baldwin

Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.
Charles F. Kettering

The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live.
Victor Hugo

When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.
Anthony Robbins

Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.
Kay Lyons

Feature Focus

Parish Restructuring for the 21st Century:  Tips for Dioceses

ImageMaureen Gallagher, Senior Consultant,
The Reid Group

John Reid, Senior Consultant
The Reid Group

Change is a constant that permeates every part of our lives—in our world, our churches, our work and our personal lives. Because of the reality of ongoing change, it is veryimportant for dioceses to look at restructuring in order to be more faithful, mission-focused and credible in the 21st century.

The six guidelines below are intended to assist dioceses make the leap into newer and better ways of being Church.

Clarify how well-organized your parishes are in light of current and emerging demographics.

In our experience, the vast majority of decisions about the current configuration of parishes in a diocese were made in the early to mid 20th century. As we know, much has changed in the last 60-70 years and parishes must change to be able to serve their people in meaningful ways.

Consider a project to re-organize existing parishes into a more manageable, workable system.

Unless you are totally satisfied with your current configuration of parishes, an important way to be a good steward of the people and facilities you have is to commit to a process of parish re-structuring in order to revitalize parish life and strengthen the presence and ministry of the Church in the diocese.

Commit to a diocesan-wide restructuring process and resist the temptation to do just one group of parishes at a time.

The benefit of a diocesan-wide approach is that no parish feels singled out because all parishes participate in the self-evaluation process. That process is conducted in conjunction with neighboring parishes in order to exercise better stewardship of available resources and ultimately to lead to a new parish spirit throughout the whole diocese.

Focus on creating new parish communities rather than closing parishes.

This is an essential ingredient in successful parish re-organization. When re-organization is done well, there are no winners and losers. Instead, all Catholics in a given area have the sacred opportunity to contribute to helping build a new parish community. For example, if four parishes are coming together to form one community, there would be closing liturgies in all four parishes and then an opening liturgy at the site of the new parish.

Engage in both a “top-down” and a “bottom-up” process.

Bishops and their advisors have a key role to play in the project. They establish goals for the overall process and criteria for viable parishes. They also identify explicit assumptions unique to the diocese that will influence the re-organization. Each parish has a significant role to play as well; we recommend that the pastor or pastoral administrator and four parishioners be appointed as representatives from each parish to help shape their parish and cluster plan. This combination or “both/and” approach offers the opportunity for a tremendous experience of partnership and leads to new life for Catholics throughout the diocese.

Consider implementing a Chancery re-organization at the same time.

Since the parish structures will change, it makes sense to many Bishops to look at restructuring the Chancery or Pastoral Center to ensure that diocesan staff are best organized to extend the Bishop’s ministry in effective service to all parishes and faith communities.


spiritlinkingSpiritlinking Leadership: Working Through Resistance to Organizational Change 
Donna Markham

Spiritlinking, the author’s original term, refers to a new way of interacting with others. Emphasizing relationships, spiritlinking affirms each individual as an expression of the energy, wisdom, spirit and culture of the group. The results of this dynamic new approach to leadership are many. Spiritlinking helps foster new ideas and service, greater productivity, a more harmonious sense of community, a way to work through resistance to change, and a deeper sense of meaning in one’s work. Integrating spirituality, psychology, and extensive leadership experience, these strategies help leaders at all levels of all kinds of organizations. This important book identifies the symptoms of resistance to change, tells how to bridge factions and promote community, shows how to provide healthy leadership–and reveals how to keep it healthy.

recreating-parishRecreating the Parish: Reproducible Resources for Pastoral Ministers
Carol Holden, Thomas Sweetser, Mary Beth Vogel

Here, from the staff of the Parish Evaluation Project (PEP), is a helpful resource for pastors, staff and lay leaders filled with reproducible worksheets, checklists, case studies and insights for making that next staff session, council meeting, commission night or parish assembly an effective experience. These exercises have been used successfully with a wide variety of parishes and pastoral groups in connection with the Parish Evaluation Project. Topics include planning, leadership, management, collaboration, decision-making, conflict and stress management, and evaluation tools.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from


And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.
Kathy Johnson, Editor
Transforming Challenges
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