A Strategic Plan for the Future

May 20, 2021

Much has been written—and more will be—on the historic challenges and loss that the pandemic has wrought on our parish and so many others. But these challenges present a remarkable opportunity for renewal. The hardships of the pandemic, and the resilience demonstrated by our community and so many others, give us the chance to “reset” our parish’s future with a new perspective. In September 2020, Father Yesalonia wrote in our parish newsletter that our community shared a “commitment to create a new paradigm of the church in a post-pandemic world that would become the blueprint for our strategic plan for the future.”

We are proud to co-chair the parish’s Strategic Planning Committee, a group of a dozen parish leaders that will work this year to deliver a strategic plan for the parish, reflecting the changed world and our parishioners’ needs and desires as we collectively work to understand what role the parish should play in our families and in our city in the years to come.

The Committee is designed to represent the broader parish, channeling as broad a set of perspectives as we can muster. We represent parents from our schools, chairs from our ministries, leaders from our staff, and even a clergyman! We represent men and women from a broad set of backgrounds, and indeed, promoting that vibrant diversity in the church’s work is an important goal. Our members are Ivan Briggiler; Rosario Conde-Johanek; Holly Curp; Adele Gallo; Fr. Mark Hallinan; Patti Hogan; Brian Pinter; Jean Santopatre; Jacques Torchon; and K. Scott Warren.

“Strategic planning” might sound like a cold and methodical process. But at this moment—and opportunity—for great change in our parish, it must be rooted in the warmth and joy of our parish community, grounded always in discernment. Just as the broader Church is taking time to discern its role in a post-COVID world (as evinced in Pope Francis’ latest book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future), we too must contemplatively consider how our community should evolve into this new paradigm for our parish.

The discussion has been animated by a set of prayers that Father Martin offered to the parish staff as this process began: inviting us to discern what we valued of our community’s “old wine,” those elements that already make St. Ignatius so special to all of us. But we are also invited to consider what “new wine” we desire: what spiritual needs our parish will need to meet, what new ways we can find to serve.

Specific ideas are already flowing rather quickly, like Father Martin’s new wine, from our parish community. Parishioners have written to us about doubling down on the unique focuses that already make our community special—from the beauty of our liturgical music to our commitment to social justice—and new ideas for our liturgies and our ministries. We are thinking about ways that remote engagement should remain a part of our community, new ways of fostering multi-generational connection, and new ways of ensuring that our impact on the community is commensurate to our talents.

The Strategic Planning Committee is deeply committed to this important mission, but we cannot do it alone. If this effort is to be successful, our work must reflect the aspirations of our entire community. Members of ministries and other informal groups will be engaged in conversations on these topics over the months to come, but we are keen for as broad participation as possible. To that end, we encourage anyone with any ideas to contribute—on any of the topics discussed here or any other ideas you have on the ways our parish should evolve—to reach out to us at [email protected].

— Kathy Murnion & Eric Van Nostrand
Co-chairs, Strategic Planning Committee