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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Beacons of Light?

Beacons of Light is a multiyear process of pastoral planning for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Rooted in prayer, groupings of parishes will come together as one faith community. These new Families of Parishes will be stronger together, focused more on mission than on maintenance. In the Families of Parishes we will grow closer to God, follow Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, and radiate Christ in our lives.

Why is Beacons of Light happening now?

There are many reasons for this planning process:

  • Our parishes need to be vibrant communities of faith in order that we might fully grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Declining religious practice in the U.S. points to the need for strong parishes that lead people to living and growing their faith in Jesus.
  • We need to better understand the impact of demographic changes in many areas within our archdiocese.
  • We will have fewer priests who can serve as pastors in the future.

Learn more about the rationale behind Beacons of Light here.

What is the timeline for Beacons of Light?

The Beacons of Light timeline can be found here.

How is the archdiocese forming Families of Parishes?

By gathering and analyzing demographic, sacramental, financial and school data, while also considering the pastoral situations that affect life in our communities, we will be forming Families of Parishes in the cities, towns, rural communities and suburbs throughout our 19 counties in Southwest Ohio.

How is Beacons of Light different from previous planning processes?

Each previous process has addressed the situations of parishes and the archdiocese at the time in which they took place. The goal of Beacons of Light is for the new Families of Parishes to truly become faith communities that live and work together in mission and ministry — not simply associate parishes with a common pastor.

Will parishes close as a result of Beacons of Light?

As the Families of Parishes grow stronger together, we will prayerfully decide how to ensure vital pastoral life.  Every Family of Parishes will initially discern Sunday Mass schedules and locations, bring parish staff and pastoral councils together and develop a plan for parish programs and activities with the long-term goal of becoming one parish led by a single pastor. The pace at which parishes join together within the families will be variable and determined by the readiness of the parishes to move forward.


Is BEACONS of LIGHT led "top down" or "bottom up"?

Beacons of Light is a two-fold process:

  • Strategic planning, through which the parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be grouped into Families
  • Pastoral planning, through which Families will come together as one parish community

The strategic planning is being led primarily through extensive data gathering and analysis and the input and feedback of priests, with an opportunity for public comments in the fall. The final decision about which parishes will be grouped as Families will be made by Archbishop Schnurr.

The pastoral planning process will be led by pastors, staff, and parishioner leaders, with significant involvement of parishioners. There will be many decisions to be made, including the times and locations of Sunday Mass; the ways in which sacramental preparation and faith formation are carried out; how the traditions and history of each parish will be honored and acknowledged; what life in the Family of Parishes will be in the future.


Universal Church

The Universal Church is the community of the Christian faithful incorporated into the life of Jesus Christ through baptism and sent out to continue His mission to the whole human race. The Church is “the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 752)

Church / church

“Church,” when capitalized, refers to the Catholic Church, the faithful of the whole world united under the guidance and authority of the pope, the successor of Saint Peter. A “church” is a sacred building set aside for public worship. Each parish has at least one church. Each church has a title which cannot be changed after its consecration.

Diocese / Archdiocese

Also known as a “particular Church” or “local Church,” a diocese is a portion of the people of God, a specific community within the Catholic Church which is defined by geographical boundaries and typically entrusted to a bishop who serves as shepherd of this portion of Christ’s flock. An archdiocese is the major diocese within a province (which is a grouping of dioceses) and is led by an archbishop.


A stable community of the faithful constituted with a church or group of churches within a diocese. Its oversight and care are entrusted to a pastor as its shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop. “The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 28)


Family of Parishes

A grouping of parishes led by a common pastor and characterized by collaboration and shared resources. A parochial vicar (or multiple parochial vicars) or retired priest may also serve a Family of Parishes.


The pastor is the proper shepherd of the parish or parishes entrusted to him under the authority of his (arch)bishop. He is an ordained priest responsible for the ministry of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, with the cooperation of other priests or deacons in the parish and the assistance of lay members of the faithful.

Parish Leaders

Those members of the parish faithful who collaborate with the pastor to help inform and guide the parish to best fulfill the evangelizing mission of the Church. These leaders could include parochial vicars, deacons and members of the laity (employees or volunteers), each according to their proper roles and charisms.

Pastoral Planning

A process by which a diocese, parish or Family of Parishes evaluates its current situation and resources, prayerfully discerns God’s will for the future of that community and crafts a plan to move toward that future.  

Beacons of Light

A program of comprehensive pastoral planning for our third century of faith in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The overall plan for Families of Parishes across the archdiocese will be completed by the end of 2021. The planning and implementation within each Family of Parishes, under the leadership of each pastor, will unfold over the next several years.   

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