Schuyler/Chemung Catholic Community
Regional Planning Group
5 Year Draft Plan
January 2000

The Regional Planning Group represents our region’s parishes: East Side Catholic Parishes, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Anthony/St. Patrick, St. Casmir/St. Charles, St. Mary Our Mother, St. Mary Southside, Schuyler Catholic Community; and Institutional Faith Communities: Elmira Reception Center, Elmira Correctional Facility, Southport Correctional Facility and St. Joseph’s Hospital.

A year ago, Bishop Clark asked our parishes/faith communities to examine their needs, list their resources and consider areas for cooperation with other parishes/faith communities. Using the wealth of information gathered by this process, our Regional Planning Group offers this plan to meet our region’s needs: revised mass schedules, an additional priest for the region, a regional census, an integrated social ministry/justice outreach, regional youth ministry, a regional business manager for our parishes, and locally available training and support for both volunteer and professional parish ministers. In addition, we propose establishing a regional communication effort and a regional council. We believe this five year plan will help us to nurture the spiritual growth of all God’s people as we develop and share our faith and work for social justice.



The Schuyler/Chemung Planning Team makes two recommendations for sacramental ministry in our region: (1) that each parish have no more than three weekend celebrations per active priest and, (2) that the diocese assign an associate pastor for St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads.

1. Why only three weekend masses per priest?

First of all, it is the policy of our diocese. But, this policy exists for good reason. Our clergy are stretched and stressed because there are fewer of them. Ordinary parish duties throughout the week demand more and more time from fewer and fewer priests. Repetition of masses and weariness of the celebrant can hurt the quality of Sunday liturgy. Our people deserve the best liturgy that we can provide. An expectation that each active priest celebrate no more than three weekend masses (one on Saturday, two on Sunday) is reasonable in that it would promote clergy well-being, high quality liturgy, and would be more in keeping with current demands upon a priest’s time.

2. Why a Parochial Vicar in Horseheads?

Right now there is only one priest for each faith community in our region. If a priest gets sick, there is no one to immediately fill in for him. When a priest goes on vacation, difficult arrangements must be made for coverage. Already we have had Sunday celebrations within our region where a priest could not be present. Our region needs an eighth priest to cover emergencies, vacations, and illnesses. St. Mary Our Mother has the financial resources to fund a Parochial Vicar and is centrally located for our region. St. Mary Our Mother agrees that they would have no more than four weekend masses and no more than one regularly scheduled daily mass to enable them to provide coverage for the needs of all faith communities

within our region. Sacramental ministry at the correction facilities will be the responsibility of the priest-chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital. St. Mary’s would be compensated according to Diocesan guidelines when providing coverage.

Action – Mass Schedules


Present Revised Mass Schedules

May 15, 2000

New Mass schedule begins

July 1, 2000



Action – Parochial Vicar


Request assignment from Diocese

Spring 2000

***The planning team is concerned that this configuration proposal makes no allowance for the future. We have left parish, cluster, and institutional ministries essentially as they are now as far as priest personnel. What connections and reconfigurations should we begin now to prepare for the future? What happens if we no longer have seven priests in the region? Should we begin to combine ministries, connect faith communities, streamline administration to deal with such a change? Should we, at least, develop possible strategies to propose should the diocese reduce our priest personnel further? This configuration plan does not do this. We recommend strongly that the Regional Council convene the parishes of the region to develop a backup plan by January 2002.***



From the very beginning of our process five areas stood out as shared concerns among our parish/faith communities. Our planning team recommends five proposals in which our parish/faith communities can collaboratively address these needs: (1) a regional census, (2) an integrated social ministry/justice outreach, (3) regional youth ministry, (4) a regional business manager for our parishes, and (5) locally available training and support for both volunteer and professional parish ministers.

1. Why a regional census?

Census information is vital to any type of planning. We need to know our community. The last Chemung County census was completed in the early 70s and the Schuyler County census is ten years old; the information is outdated. A regional approach is essential because a number of our parishes have no boundaries, parishioners often reside in one parish but attend another, and no parish community could hope to do a census over the entire region by themselves. Doing it together will save time and money.

How much will this cost?

The diocese estimates that the total cost of a regional census would be no more than $6,000. This is a one time expense.

Where will we get the money?

Parishes will decide how to fund.

Action – Regional Census


Pastors from each faith community recruit a person to serve on Census Committee and submit name to Regional Council



Census Committee, with assistance from diocesan representative experienced in conducting census, draft a job description for a temporary Census Coordinator position



Census Committee hires a Census Coordinator

11/01/00 – 1/15/01


Using diocesan assistance and with the leadership of the Census Coordinator the Census Committee: 1. Map the region and subdivide for coverage by faith communities; 2. Develop a recruitment plan and secure volunteers from each faith community to assist with the execution of the census; 3. Draft the census form to be used.

1/15/01 – 4/15/01

Together with the Regional Communication Committee, develop regional informational pamphlet to be included with the census


Advertise, coordinate with local police agencies, communicate with other denominations of churches in the regions.


Voluntary recruits (after training) execute the census.


Census committee collects and compiles data


Parishes respond to local needs surfaced by the census.

6/30/01 – ongoing

Census committee with diocesan and/or other expertise analyzes and interprets census data.

6/30/01 – 10/01/01

Renders Report to the Regional Council who will then disseminate to their respective faith communities and to the Regional Standing Committees


2. Why an integrated social ministry/justice effort?

Presently each parish has its own social ministry/justice effort. The needs of our community are greater than any one parish can serve or fund. Within our region we have many good projects and ministries, but these are not coordinated, and as a result there is duplication, volunteer burnout, people falling through the cracks, and we lose the financial and personnel advantages of working together. Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier provides valuable help to our social ministry/justice efforts, but they are willing to do much more. With their leadership and direction, as well as joint funding, we can establish a regional approach to social ministry/justice effort, including outreach, education and advocacy – doing together what we could never do separately.

How much will this cost?

Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier estimates such a program would cost $50,000 annually. This covers personnel and administration.

Where will we get the money?

Thanksgiving Appeal, grant money, and money being spent right now by the parishes on social ministry/justice outreach. We feel we can do this with no new dollars.

Action – Integrated Social Ministry Effort


Pastors identify Faith Community Representatives


Schedule / Hold meeting with Catholic Charities to define positions


Identify current programs

2/01 – 4/01

Settle on funding

2/01 – 4/01

Commit to regional leadership by Catholic Charities – Parish affirmation

5/01 – 6/01

Implement & Set priorities. Use results of regional census to guide efforts.

7/01 – 10/01




3. Why a Regional Youth Ministry?

All our parish faith communities see a need to expand our ministry to young people. Our young people enjoy excellent CYO programs, Religious Education, and other youth programs. Many attend Catholic schools, but we can and must do much more. We recommend that our region establish the position of Regional Youth Ministry Director to coordinate all youth ministry activities for the region’s parishes. Some parishes have active youth programs; others are just beginning. A Regional Youth Ministry Director can "share the wealth" of experience, program leaders, facilities, and other resources across our region. Together we can do much more for our young people than we can separately. This will mean joint funding and governance.

How much will this cost?

We estimate this program would cost between $30,000-$50,000 a year, when it starts, covering both salary and programs.

Where will we get the money?

Participating parishes will each pay their annual share.

Action – Regional Youth Ministry


Identify parish representatives for task force to define Regional Youth Ministry Goals. For example – centralized youth facility vs. activities / programs at each parish. Time to be spent fully researching the topic and taking advantage of internal and external resources to explore the concept.

7/00 – 12/00

Define Youth Ministry Program

1/01 – 3/01

Parish Affirmation


Agree on funding for position to meet goals

4/01 – 5/01

Post position / Seek candidate(s)

5/01 – 6/01

Interview / Select

7/01 – 9/01

Candidate starts


Working with parishes, Regional Director defines youth program. Current youth programs continue to occur.

10/01 – 1/02

New program implemented



4. Why a Regional Business Manager?

We need to free our priests’ time for ministry. The details of building maintenance, financial planning, budgets and purchasing steal time from caring for people. In addition, priests are not trained to run a business, but to minister to people’s spiritual lives. A professional business manager could consolidate purchasing, planning, fund-raising and other administrative functions to make our parishes run more efficiently. Pastors would then have approximately ten (10) more hours a week to devote to ministry.

How much will this cost?

We estimate this position would cost approximately $50,000.

Where will we get the money?

Each parish will contribute their share. However, a Regional Business Manager could save us all money by using cooperative purchasing, tighter budgeting, and streamlining staff - just to name a few possibilities – making the total "real" cost of this position much less than $50,000.

Action – Regional Business Manager


Parish finance councils meet to define regional financial process. Councils should take advantage of clustering experience of some parishes to develop concept.

7/01 – 6/02

Identify parish/faith community representative to define position scope and responsibilities; agree on reporting structure; agree on position funding.

7/02 – 12/02

Parish affirmation


Post position / seek candidate(s)

12/02 – 2/03

Interview / select

2/03 – 4/03

Candidate starts


Participates in the budget process for next fiscal year

4/03 – 6/03


5. Why locally available training and support for both volunteer and professional parish ministers?

Our parishes/faith communities deserve the best ministry we can provide. Our parish ministers, both professional and volunteer, should receive the best training and support we can afford. In today’s church, qualified lay ministers are essential. Unfortunately, required certification programs and valuable enrichment workshops take place at sites hours away from us. A coordinated effort could provide a regular schedule of ministry training locally. Our regional professional ministry staffs meet monthly. Because they are aware of the needs, and already meet and plan regularly, we recommend that they assume this responsibility. If we have local resources, they can use them. If they need to get people from outside, they can request them.

How much will this cost?

Costs should be less than what is spent now on training.

Action – locally available training and support


Regional Staff evaluate needs and capabilities assessment


Prioritize needs based on findings.


Develop a three year training plan


Present to Regional Council


Implement training program

9/02 – ongoing



The Schuyler/Chemung Planning Committee recommends that we establish a Regional Communications Committee.

1. Why a Regional Communications Committee?

If we are to work together effectively, we need to get out the message of what we are doing as a region, and to share what each parish/faith community is doing. A Regional Communications Committee can ensure that information is consistent, accurate and timely. Not only that, we can share the services of talented people with experience in things like web sites and advertising. Collaboration, shared programs, shared personnel and finances demand that everyone knows what is going on.

How much will this cost?

The Regional Communications Committee will present a program and budget annually for approval. Grant money might be available.

Where will we get the money?

Parishes will pay their agreed upon share.

Action – Regional Communications Committee


PGLT communication committee develop Regional Communication Committee (RCC) responsibilities/task outline

By 6/01/00

Parishes/faith communities identifies representative for RCC


RCC becomes standing committee of the Regional Council and one member of the Regional Council will serve as liaison.




The Schuyler/Chemung Planning Committee recommends that we establish a Regional Council to administer this plan.

1. Why a Regional Council?

This is a five year plan. Over those five years, many decisions will have to be made. We are hoping to begin new ministries and to combine others. All of this will mean planning, negotiation, getting the approval of the faith communities, deciding on financing, evaluating our projects, and possibly moving in new directions. The experience we have had in this planning process encourages us that a representative committee of each of the faith communities in our region, with the leadership of our regional coordinator and the support of our faith communities’ staffs, can perform this valuable function. We have worked together to provide this plan. We can work together to make it come true.

Who makes up this Regional Council?

The Regional Coordinator (selected by the Bishop) will convene the Regional Council. Membership in the Regional Council shall include the Regional Coordinator and:

One (1) pastor (chosen by pastors)

One (1) staff representative (chosen by regional staff)

One (1) representative from each faith community

Representatives will serve a minimum of two years.

What will they do?

The Regional Council will establish Standing Committees including:

Project Committees – one committee for each regional project (eg, Youth Ministry, Census, Business Manager, etc.) with representation on the committee from the parish/faith communities involved in that project (appointed by the parish/faith community) and one member of the Regional Council (appointed by the council)

Executive Committee – Membership and leadership determined by Regional Council. This committee will provide meeting agendas and coordination for the Regional Council

Regional Communications Committee – one representative from each parish/faith community (appointed by the parish/faith community) and one member of the Regional Council (appointed by the council)

All committees will report to the Regional Council at its regular quarterly meetings. Each parish/faith community representative on the Regional Council will report to their own pastoral council. The Regional Coordinator will report to the diocese. The pastor representative will report to the other pastors. The regional staff representative will report at the regional staff meeting.

The Regional Council will report annually in writing to pastoral councils and the diocese. This report will include an evaluation of all the projects and committee-work over the previous year. Projects may be expanded, continued or ended, based on this annual review in consultation with the parish/faith communities.

All funding for regional activities, as requested by the committees, will be reviewed by the Regional Council. Final funding requests will be proposed to and ratified by parishes/faith communities. While all parishes/faith communities will financially support the Regional Council and the Regional Communications Committee, only parish/faith communities involved in projects will financially support those projects.

New projects may be proposed by any regional committee or representative. A project committee will be gathered by the Regional Council to study the proposal. Proposals will be reviewed by the Regional Council and submitted for approval and financing by decision of participating parishes/faith communities.

Action-Regional Council


Representatives named to the Council


Regional Coordinator Convenes the Regional Council


Select Steering Committee


Set Quarterly meeting schedule & appoint council representatives on committees


Annual Report to Parishes/Faith communities and the Diocese


During the week of February 26 & 27 the plan will be presented at all parishes in the Region.  People will be available after Masses the weekend of March 4 & 5 for your comments which will be greatly appreciated.

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