Following a pilot wave this spring and summer, five groups of archdiocesan parish and school communities are beginning the local-level Renew My Church discernment and planning process. Renew My Church is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s call for renewal. Through Renew My Church, the archdiocese is working to strengthen parish vitality and better align its resources and its mission. It’s a movement, not a program. That is what Father Jason Malave, Cardinal Cupich’s delegate for Renew My Church, told a gathering of parish staff during a meeting at St. John of the Cross Church in Western Springs on Aug. 18. Because it’s a movement, every person who calls themselves Catholic will be impacted and enter into to a closer relationship with Jesus, he said. Also because it’s a movement, details of the process will change as the archdiocese learns and grows. All 344 archdiocesan parishes are divided into 97 groupings, which will meet over the next few years. The pastor and three others from each parish will be part of the overall “grouping feedback and discernment team.” If the parish has a school, three people from the school will also be part of that team. The team will meet and take what they’ve discussed back to their parish to share with the congregation. The congregations will discuss and the team members will take that feedback back to the team. This will happen several times over about three months. “This particular phase is looking at what structure is going to most help them succeed in ministry,” Malave said. During the process, the groupings will discuss how various potential structures could serve their communities, given the mission needs of the area and overall resource realities locally and across the diocese. Potential structures could include merging existing parishes into one parish with multiple churches, sharing a pastor or closing a site. Cardinal Cupich will make the final determination on the groupings’ structures after evaluating the input he receives from each grouping. "The next piece is going to be starting to implement that structure and do some pastoral planning,” Malave said. The Archdiocese of Chicago is the third largest archdiocese in the United States, after Los Angeles and New York, with 344 parishes. Many of the parishes in the city of Chicago are more than 100 years old with buildings of similar age. Also of interest... Watch: Cardinal Cupich discusses Renew My Church Other dioceses around the country, such as the Archdiocese of New York, face similar challenges and have already undertaken reorganization processes. Local archdiocesan officials have looked at what others have done to see what might help in the Renew My Church process. For one group of archdiocesan parishes beginning the discernment and planning, partnering in ministry such as that emphasized by Renew My Church is nothing new. St. Celestine, Elmwood Park; St. Cyprian, River Grove; and St. William, 2600 N. Sayre Ave., have been partnering on their annual mission for several years. “You get a lot more people because you have representation from each church. It is a collaboration,” said Mary Morvay, religious education coordinator at St. Cyprian. Each year a different church hosts the mission; the other parishes provide hospitality and music. Members of each parish also take part in the liturgies. “It was always very collaborative,” said Karen Moretti, also from St. Cyprian. Bonds between the communities formed and now the three parishes partner on offering the Rite of Christian Initiation to Adults. Moretti, who is part of her parish council, said Renew My Church is “absolutely necessary.” She likens Renew My Church to a couple who have outgrown their starter home. They love that home and the memories made there but times have changed and they need a new home. They don’t love the old home less, but they also love the new building. “It’s kind of like walking in and finding the church is just filled, which is vitality,” she said.