For the last five years, the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has been involved in the study and implementation of a reconfiguration plan that has affected the vast majority of its parishes.
During this time, the diocese has downsized from 117 parishes to 87 parishes under the direction of the diocesan Office of Parish Plan Implementation. These parish mergers or collaborations were made possible by planning of pastors, parish councils and other individuals committed to making each parish a stronger and more viable faith community.
Another step in strengthening the faith communities is the establishment of a Diocesan Office of Evangelization. The Rev. Nicholas Shori has been named director of the office that will open May 19, the Feast of Pentecost.
The Office of Evangelization will be charged with finalizing any reconfiguration plans still being discussed, including pending decisions regarding use of buildings, number of priests available and maintaining the integrity of the 2010 Reconfiguration Plan.
The Office of Evangelization also will assist the 87 parishes in efforts to reach out to specific groups often associated or unassociated with the church or spirituality. The office also will assist parishes in evaluating the success of their efforts.
Some parishes have already begun outreach by adopting programs such as Engaging People as Disciples of Christ, Parish Evaluation Program, Christ Renews His Parish, Generations of Faith, Catholic Men’s Fellowship, Awaken, Gospel Connects, Strong Catholic Families and Strong Catholic Youth.