Faith In Our Future

Results of the survey can be found below

Introduction and Background

Faith in Our Future is a process through which the Diocese of Trenton, its parishes and ministries, is developing a plan to meet the challenges facing us in this decade and into the future. Two of the biggest challenges we face are: 1) The shortage of priests, leading to an inability to staff our 107 parishes; and, 2) The declining attendance of Catholics at weekend Liturgies. Along with the lack of attendance comes the lack of resources needed to maintain the parish. In the future, those who actively practice their Catholic Faith may have to travel distances since near-by parishes may have to close. Not only do we need to meet these challenges but we need to develop new opportunities for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ for years to come.
The Faith in Our Future pastoral planning process has been underway in the Diocese of Trenton since the Fall of 2015. It calls for each of the 107 parishes to pursue a new course that will lead to stronger faith communities and more effective ministries. All parishioners were invited to participate in the process by completing a survey presenting their thoughts and ideas.

Parish Cohorts

All 107 parishes in the Diocese of Trenton (DOT) were placed into 25 groupings or cohorts based on similarity, closeness etc. Our Parish was included in Cohort #19 along with 4 other parishes:
• St. Mark Parish, Sea Girt
• St. Rose Parish, Belmar
• St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Avon-by-the-Sea
• Ascension Parish, Bradley Beach

Parish CORE Team and Survey Methodology

A CORE team of five people was selected in each parish for the Faith in Our Future project. At St. Catharine – St. Margaret Parish (SCC), our Pastor, Father Harold Cullen, was a member of the Team, appointing a Team Captain, Mary Lou Oliva, and Secretary, Maureen Martin. The other team members included Mary Ann Christopher and Richard Diver.
Working with consultants well-versed in survey methodology, the Team used suggested survey questions and customized them for our Parish, given the breadth and complexity inherent in SCC (i.e., our two Churches, St. Catharine School, the Rectory and Convent, and two Cemeteries and two Mausoleums).
Parishioners were given a choice in completing the survey: 1) they could access the questionnaire online through Survey Monkey; or, 2) complete a printed copy of the questionnaire. The survey questionnaire was introduced by CORE Team members at all Masses during the weekend of February 27-28, 2016. A total of 744 surveys were completed by parishioners — 522 on-line and 222 for the printed version. The Survey Questionnaire consisted of four sections totaling 25 questions with space allotted after each section for parishioner comments:
• Sacramental Life – Seven questions
• Evangelization, Catechesis & Catholic Schools – Eight questions
• Communal Life – Six questions
• Stewardship & Leadership – Four questions

Parishioners were also given an opportunity to provide additional feedback at the end of the survey questionnaire by responding to a final question Is There Anything Else You Wish to Add? More than 500 comments were provided by SCC parishioners across the 744 completed surveys, providing the Parish Pastoral Council with valuable input for developing a new Strategic Plan for the parish community. Tallies for the online survey were done by the computer system while the results for the printed surveys were done manually by stroke count.

Parish Survey Results

Results for the Faith in Our Future Parish Survey are presented below, with each page showing parishioner responses (online and printed form) to each of the 25 questions included in the survey.

Faith In Our Future Survey Results (PDF)

Update and Implementation

As you may recall, the Faith in our Future Planning Initiative has now moved into the implementation phase.  St. Catharine – St. Margaret Parish has joined with the 4 neighboring parish communities of St. Rose of Belmar, St. Mark’s of Sea Girt, Ascension of Bradley Beach, and St. Elizabeth’s in Avon to form a new Cohort Team (Cohort 19) where we will collaborate on how we can effectively implement Bishop O’Connell’s directives for our Cohort.  Cohort 19 is one of 25 Cohort Teams within the Diocese of Trenton.  Each Parish within a particular cohort has 5 team members consisting of their pastor or parish administrator and 4 parishioners.  The St. Catharine – St. Margaret Parish Implementation Team includes Fr. Cullen, Pam King, Mary-Jo Capko, Megan Gepp, and Dr. Jack Kirnan. 

The Cohort 19 Team is a Collaborative Parishes Model where our primary focus will be: 1) to look for specific ways to strengthen and enliven each of our parishes; 2) to improve our stewardship of human, financial, and facility resources; and, 3) to promote more effective evangelization and community outreach.  The Cohort Team has already met two times (March 8th and March 20th) and during the next two months will be developing an action plan for the cohort that lays out specific goals and objectives that align with the Bishop’s directives.   The Cohort 19 Team will submit an action plan for review and approval to the Diocesan Implementation Commission by May 31stwith the actual implementation of the plan beginning promptly on July 1,2017.  Progress reports for each cohort as well as an action plan for the second year of implementation will be submitted in May 2018 for further review and approval by the Diocesan Implementation Commission, with Year 2 implementation beginning on July 1, 2018.

Your Parish Implementation Team will continue to provide timely updates on our collaborative efforts with our Cohort Team in both the Parish Bulletin as well as on the Parish website where we have created a special webpage to house all relevant documents relating to this important Diocesan initiative.

We also welcome your continued input throughout this important initiative so please feel free to send any comments and/or suggestions directly to Jack Kirnan at