Strategic Plan

A Strategic Plan 2022 – 2024

Introduction

St. Joseph Parish, located in Cockeysville, Maryland, is a diverse and vibrant community, committed to the Catholic faith and well-poised to provide significant future investment to the greater parish community.  In an effort to further this mission, the St. Joseph Parish Council submits its 2022-2024 strategic planning document to the broader parish community outlining a strategic road map intended to guide Parish Leadership in decision-making in support of the parish mission. The Strategic Plan and the revised Parish Mission Statement have been developed with the sole intent of inviting all to come to know Jesus and to experience his grace and mercy. 

Background

After the previous strategic planning cycle came to an end in June 2020, St. Joseph Parish was tasked with reassessing the strategic vision of the Parish in the midst of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.  During the 2020 Parish fiscal year, the Council pivoted to the immediate needs of the Parish community, offering support and outreach through virtual and online platforms as we assisted the Pastor in monitoring the “pulse” of the Parish community.  The Council also spent considerable time discussing the future in light of emerging realities associated with inevitable community changes realized as a result of the Pandemic.  

In preparing for the next strategic planning cycle, the 2021 Parish Council evaluated emerging data, which showcased some of the more significant changes that had occurred within our Parish community.  Some of these shifts included lower in-person Mass attendance, an increase in online giving, and expanded use of online technology.  While Mass attendance has returned to approximately 70% of pre-COVID-19 levels as of October of 2021, livestreaming continues following 2020 investments and has allowed the Parish to reach a broader community and cater to those who may be unable to make it to Mass.  Additionally, while in-person collections materially diminished over the cycle, increases in online giving and strong investment returns on existing Parish reserves have kept the St. Joseph Parish financially stable.  Since re-establishing in-person worship, the Parish has continued to offer a hybrid approach of both online and in-person programming including Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW), Music Ministry, Small Groups, teen and young adult outreach, social events, etc.  In addition, the Parish is in the early stages of a new capital campaign to significantly upgrade the Church facilities and worship space.  After evaluating available data and speaking with Parish Staff, the Council believes that while St. Joseph, Cockeysville Parish remains a vibrant, diverse community of faithful, our community is actively evolving as a result of our shared experiences over the past 18 months.

Over the past two years, the Council has prepared for the next strategic planning cycle by conducting coordinated small group “sensing sessions” and Town Hall style meetings to obtain direct parishioner feedback on the perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) recognized by our parish community.  The Council aggregated the feedback in a formal SWOT analysis and a summary document and utilized the noted deliverables along with the emerging data noted above to formulate the new three-year strategic plan for St. Joseph Parish, Cockeysville. 

As part of this process, the Council spent a significant amount of time reflecting on and evaluating the existing Parish Mission and Vision statements to determine if they remained relevant and meaningful in light of the continued evolution of our Parish community.  As a result of this process, the Council determined that while the existing statements have served our Parish well, they were unnecessarily long and relatively unknown to the broader parish community.  Through work with an external consultant and significant thought and reflection, the Council ultimately decided to replace our existing statements with one concise, focused Mission Statement that clearly defines the core focus of our Parish identity, reflects our existing strengths and history, and identifies a structure for realizing the future vision of our Parish.  Capturing the work of previous Councils and the Parish Staff, the new Mission Statement embraces and expands upon the existing Parish tagline and is intended to serve as a “call to action” for our parish community:

St. Joseph Parish, Cockeysville Mission Statement:

An inviting, diverse, Catholic community actively serving as a beacon of faith, worship, and witness to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

The Council is optimistic that the new St. Joseph Mission Statement will be embraced by our community and easily recalled, while also serving as a guide to everyday parish life.   Additionally, the Mission Statement has been established to serve as a roadmap for strategic planning decisions associated with supporting the evolving needs of our Parish community.  

SJP Vision 2024:

The Parish Council foresees several realities within our Church community over the next several years as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Common among religious organizations, concerns about the aging population of the Parish combined with the challenge of bringing parishioners back to Mass in the post-pandemic world jeopardize our most precious resource to carry forth our mission and faith into the future: our people.  It is the Council’s intent to encourage the “Grow Young” philosophy while maintaining an active nod to our parish history and striving to provide opportunities for intergenerational worship and fellowship.  Our challenge moving forward will be to serve as a beacon of faith, worship, and witness that attracts youth, young adults, and young families early in their journey, provide ample faith formation and fellowship opportunities and maintain an inviting environment for those already within the Parish community. 

Through our research and analysis, the Council concluded that there are a significant number of programs and characteristics of our worship experience that are currently maintained at high levels of execution with related leadership recognizing significant expertise and experience.  It is the Council’s intent to encourage the sustainment of such programs through support for the pastor, clergy, staff, and volunteers.  Additionally, in collaboration with the Parish Staff Management Team, the Council will continue to encourage the maintenance of appropriate staffing levels, providing talent acquisition assistance as necessary.

Data indicate that increasing numbers of Catholics will be non-English speaking in the future.  Additionally, it is the intent of the Parish Council to further integrate the entirety of the community, leveraging the strengths of both the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and all other communities within the Parish to participate together in a holistic, single Parish community. 

Strategic Planning Framework: 

After defining the new Mission Statement, the Council’s focus shifted to an evaluation of the four-pillar framework identified in the previous strategic planning cycle.  As stated in the prior Strategic Plan document, the four-pillar framework was defined as follows:

1.  St. Joseph Parish is an Authentic Catholic Experience in Liturgy, in celebration of the Sacraments, in Faith Formation, and Catechesis – all rooted in and inspired by Sacred Tradition.

2.   St. Joseph is a welcoming and diverse faith community: as part of the body of Christ that is the Church, we call together people of diverse cultures and identities, young and old, school and parish, newcomers, inquirers, and lifelong members.

3.   St. Joseph is a spirited and vibrant parish, building upon over 160 years of tradition, poised for another century of growth in Faith.

4.   St. Joseph is a beacon of Christian witness and mission as a model 21st-century parish in the greater Baltimore Community.

While numerous strategic priorities were ultimately advanced under this four-pillar framework, the Council ultimately noted certain redundancies, determined that the four pillars were relatively unknown to the broader parish community, and, similar to the previous Mission/Vision statements, unnecessarily long.  After significant reflection and discussion, the Council consolidated the framework into three core pillars: Faith, Worship, and Witness.  While aligning with our new Mission Statement, the new three-pillar framework is intended to be concise, memorable, and impactful.  The remaining segments of this document will address each of the new core pillars, specifically defining both short-term and long-term strategic priorities.  Noted short-term priorities are intended to be addressed within the first 12-months of the new three-year plan.  Long-term strategic priorities will be utilized to define annual goals throughout the 3-year planning cycle.

Core Pillar #1: Faith

As a large and diverse parish community, we believe everyone recognizes a unique and deeply personal faith journey and relationship with Jesus Christ.  Ultimately, we believe we continue to grow in faith through actively experiencing the Eucharist each Sunday at Mass.  However, our faith journey should not begin and end at the Church doors.  As a Parish Community, our goal is to provide as many touchpoints and opportunities as possible for our community to actively engage in faith, to keep our relationship with Jesus at the heart of our day-to-day life, and to provide continuous opportunities for growth and formation. 

What are we already doing?

·       Well established and vibrant Parish-based School

·       Pre-K to 5 Faith Formation Programs

·       Developing Small Group Program

·       RCIA and Adult Faith Formation Program

·       Sacramental Preparation Programs

·       CLOW

·       Middle & High School Youth Ministry Programs

·       Lunch & Learn Programs

·       Parish Missions/Retreats

·       Young Family Ministry Program

·       Daily Reflections on the Gospel Readings – Facebook

·       Access to FORMED

Short-term Strategic Priorities:

  • The Parish Council, together with the Parish Staff, will work to create broader parishioner awareness of existing resources offered, including FORMED, Small Groups, Daily Reflections, etc.
  • Led by our Director of Adult Faith Formation, together with the support of the Parish Council, we will look to increase parishioner participation in the small group program by offering at least one additional small group per quarter.
  • The Parish Council will review and evaluate additional faith-based resources that may be beneficial for our parish community.  Evaluation criteria will be defined and specific recommendations will be presented to the pastor.

Long-term Strategic Priorities:

  • The Parish Staff, with the support of the Parish Council, will fully roll out the Pilot Program for the new Parish Database, including working with the parish community to update our existing data set.
  • Led by the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, together with the support of the Parish Council, SJP will serve as a beta parish for the TenX10 initiative focused on reaching 10 million teens across 10k parishes.  Through this initiative, we will be tasked with actively investing in the youth of our Parish.

Core Pillar #2:  Worship

The celebration of the Eucharist is the common center of worship and a key unifier for Catholics throughout the world.  Although at a top-level identical across all Parishes, it is the intricacies of the worship experience resulting from elements of local character that make each Parish unique.  During the Parish Council’s SWOT analysis, key themes of Worship were identified as some of the most critical elements that make the Parish both unique and inviting. 

What are we already doing?

  • Relevant and applicable homilies that affect the day-to-day life of Parishioners, reigniting the faithful in their weekly pursuits both inside and outside the Church walls. 
  • The diverse Parish community, with many cultures represented within the congregation.  Most notably, the Parish has an active Hispanic community and provides Spanish Masses each week. 
  • Music Ministry provides additional spiritual meaning to the Mass, as well as a unique opportunity for Parishioners to participate in the weekly celebration. 

Short-term Strategic Priorities:

The Parish Council believes that after the conclusion of COVID-19, increased mass attendance is critical to the health of the Parish community.  Therefore, our short-term goal is to increase weekly Mass attendance by 10% over the first year by instituting the following:

  • Increase the utilization of social media as a tool for evangelization to invite and encourage the faithful to reengage with Mass. Such posts could include Mass schedules and invitations to after-mass activities. 
  • Reinstitute weekly fellowship following Mass as another venue to attract additional attendance to Mass. 
  • Fully support the revitalization of the worship space itself through active support of the “Open Wide the Doors” Capital Campaign.  It is the hope of the Council that this significantly upgraded space will evangelize through its beauty and serve as a true beacon to the surrounding community.  With aging infrastructure including poor site lines from the congregation to the altar, an excessively large altar area separating the congregation from the altar, as well as a litany of building and fire code issues, the Parish intends to upgrade the space to the current needs of the community.  
  • The Parish Council believes continued investment in the Music Ministry program is necessary to sustain and continue to build upon the current foundation in support of weekly worship.  The focus should be on continued diversity in the repertoire, participant age, bilingual offerings, and instrumentation while maintaining high levels of community engagement and displaying effortless mastery in leading the congregation in worship. 
  • Increase cross-community engagement in the Parish by providing opportunities for intergenerational and multi-cultural collaboration and interaction, while breaking through language barriers.  

Long-term Strategic Priorities:

  • Continue to support the capital campaign for revitalization of the worship space and continue to support the design and building process as it commences during 2023.  The expected completion is scheduled for 2024. 
  • Continue to expand diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout our Parish by offering culturally diverse worship and events, language classes, intergenerational small group experiences, parish history events, etc.

Core Pillar #3:  Witness

Serving as a witness of Jesus and our Christian faith is very personal and can have varying meanings.  Ultimately, we are called to humbly live out our faith through our daily interactions and relationships and via regular acts of service in our community.  In this post-pandemic era, we are called to serve as a beacon of witness within our workplaces, within our neighborhoods, and within our homes, striving to model our faith and establishing an attractive proposition for those looking for faith and joy in their own lives.   We are called to spread the good news of Jesus, not only at church on Sunday, but every day and with everyone we meet.  By actively embracing our faith and striving to serve as a witness to the Gospel, we strengthen our faith community and the Catholic Church. 

What are we already doing?

  • A strong group of dedicated volunteers who spend countless hours sharing their gifts and time to enrich our parish community. 
  • Established Outreach Committee focused on maintaining relationships with a variety of community organizations and providing active and ongoing support.  
  • Parish Events such as ESL classes, St. Joseph’s Pantry Collection, Our Daily Bread Casserole Collection, Advent Giving (Adopt-A-Family, Giving Tree), UCAN, Sarah’s Hope-Mount Street, My Sister’s Place Women’s Center, Habitat for Humanity

Short-term Strategic Priorities:

  • Increase online engagement within the Parish Community.  This includes increased interaction amongst parishioners related to daily reflections, discussion boards, faith sharing experiences/pictures, etc.  
  • In coordination with the Parish Staff, relaunch and restructure the Outreach Committee to include a Pastoral Care component, seeking to serve the sick in hospitals/nursing homes and to support pro-life advocacy efforts among other initiatives.
  • Active invitations to family and friends to attend Mass, an evening of faith formation, or another parish event.
  • Establishing full family service opportunities throughout the year to allow for family-based faith sharing and collaboration.
  • Establishing a Parish Council-specific service event in order to lead by example in our efforts increases community involvement in service activities.
  • Establish a community profile segment within the bulletin or the Wednesday Update to highlight notable acts of service and initiatives by parishioners within our community

Long-term Strategic Priorities:

  • Restart international outreach efforts
  • Bring in speakers/visitors who will reinvigorate the congregation and help parishioners to re-engage with the church. More “gateway” activities that can introduce our community to potential members and can encourage them to come back. Encourage parishioners to “bring a friend” to events as a way to bring community members through our doors and cultivate an awareness of our parish.
  • Intergenerational service opportunities that encourage active participation regardless of age

Conclusion

It is with elated hearts and hopeful prayer that the 2022-2024 St. Joseph Parish Council Strategic Plan will provide an informative guide to reaching the Parish’s goals.  It is the Council’s desire to utilize the user-friendly three-pillar framework to communicate the short and long-term strategic goals to the broader parish community.  Through a clear and concise strategic framework, a consistent effort to “Grow Young”, and continued community engagement, St. Joseph Parish of Cockeysville will be well-positioned to live out its mission of providing an inviting, diverse, Catholic community actively serving as a beacon of faith, worship, and witness to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.