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Beacons of Light - Eucharist

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Learning about the Beacons of Light process is essential to a successful outcome. Beacons of Light has six key Principles each of which have Vision Points and Parameters that will guide us on our journey. Each of these will eventually have its own committee in which to discuss and plan how we will carry out each principle. Please take the time to read and discern where you can best help our Family of Parishes live out our baptismal call. After some brief introductions to what the Principles, Vision Points, and Parameters are, we will focus on the source and summit of our faith, The Eucharist.

God’s blessings,

Fr Matt

Beacons of Lighth Pastoral Planning Pathway

Over the next six weeks, will be highlighting the six key Principles by which each Family of Parishes must use in their pastoral planning to become a Beacon of Light. Each of these Principles have corresponding Vision Points and Parameters that will guide the process.

What are Principles?

There are six key principles that have been approved by Archbishop Schnurr that will be the foundation for the pastoral plans each Family of Parishes will develop. They include:


What are Vision Points?

Vision points will guide leaders to consider what living the principle to its fullest would mean for the Family and to plan toward fulfilling that vision. Parish leaders must keep the vision of the parish as a beacon of light in mind as they create the plan for their Family of Parishes.

What are Parameters?

Archbishop Schnurr has approved parameters to guide the pastoral planning process, establishing common expectations for each Family of Parishes. These parameters will address things that all Families must or must not do as they come together. While each Principle will have its own corresponding parameters, there are three parameters that apply to the whole Beacons of Light Pastoral Planning Process.



P1      Families of Parishes must follow canon law, civil law, all universal and particular Church law, and archdiocesan policies.

P2      Families of Parishes must develop a pastoral plan for parish vitality, submitted at least annually, reviewed by the dean, to be approved by the archbishop in conformity with the parameters of the Pastoral Planning Pathway according to the published timeline.

P3      By September 1, 2022, every Family of Parishes must form a Planning Team, led by the pastor, to coordinate pastoral planning geared toward the unification of the Family by June 30, 2027.




The Mass is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. Accordingly, the Eucharist is the essential moment for building up and strengthening the parish community, along with the sacraments and other celebrations of the paschal mystery — the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


  • Sunday Mass: The Sunday Eucharist is the essential gathering of the parish community each week and is the “paradigm for other Eucharistic celebrations” (Dies Domini,34); therefore life-giving, beautiful, and transformative celebration of Sunday Mass is critical.
  • Christ’s Presence: Sacramental celebrations and other parish and school liturgies are true encounters with Jesus Christ present in Word and Sacrament, in the ministry of the priest and in the gathered assembly. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7)
  • Unity: As the sacrament of unity (1 Cor 10:17), celebrations of the Eucharist within the Family are opportunities for members of the parishes to worship together. The cultural traditions of the members of the Family of Parishes are honored and celebrated, particularly on special feasts.
  • Formation: Every Family of Parishes offers liturgical and sacramental formation “with zeal and patience” (CSL, 19), deepening an appreciation of the sacred mysteries.
  • Ars Celebrandi:Attention to the art of celebrating the liturgy is important: fidelity to texts and rubrics as well as a prayerful understanding of liturgical texts, feasts, and seasons kindles full, conscious, and active participation among the faithful. (Sacramentum Caritatis, 38) Preaching and music are foremost among the liturgical arts and are well-prepared for liturgical celebrations.
  • Trained Ministers: Priests, deacons, and lay liturgical ministers are well-trained and formed for leadership of communities at prayer and are “imbued with the spirit of the liturgy.” (CSL, 14)
  • Sacred Space: Churches, chapels, and other sacred buildings should be “truly worthy and beautiful, signs and symbols of heavenly realities,” the house of the Church and the house of God, “suitable for carrying out the sacred action and for ensuring the active participation of the faithful.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal,288)
  • Adoration: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is readily available within the Family of Parishes with proper catechesis for all.


P4: The regular Mass schedule for a Family of Parishes may not assume more than two Masses per day per priest.


P5: A regularly scheduled Mass for the Sunday precept must have annual average attendance of at least 50% of the church capacity.


P6: The regular Mass schedule must provide the opportunity for priests to spiritually prepare for and be present to the community after Mass.


P7: There must be a sufficient number of trained and formed liturgical ministers to serve as readers, servers, EMsHC, music ministers, et al. for liturgical celebrations.


P8: Sacramental formation must be provided.



  • What role does the Eucharist play in your life? Do you believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity?
  • Is the celebration of the Eucharist the source and summit of your life? What are some concrete actions you take to ensure that Sunday Mass remains a priority?
  • Are you active in the ministries associated with the celebration of Mass? If not, what is holding you back from participating and serving?
  • Do you take time to adequately prepare both physically and spiritually for Mass?
  • Does prayer have a prominent place in your daily life? Do you read Sacred Scripture frequently…daily? Do you allow adequate amounts of silence in your prayer to allow the Lord to speak?
  • Do you take learning the faith seriously? What areas of the faith do you need to study and pray more deeply about?
  • What are the cultural traditions that draw you to the parish you attend? How might you share those traditions with the other four parishes in our Family of Parishes?

From the Pastor

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is now one month since I arrived from Reading to begin my assignment as the pastor of the best five parishes on the west side… and I am still unpacking and trying to get settled. Needless to say, I couldn’t have scripted a more inauspicious beginning. A/C failure in Saint Antoninus church (which I am praying will be fixed soon) is not exactly what a new pastor wants to hear, but I guess that was better than the bout with the dreaded Covid virus after only the first six days. These issues, however, couldn’t damper the welcoming spirit I have encountered as I have made my first appearance at each Sunday liturgy. Unfortunately, it takes four weeks to make the rounds to all the Masses. Thankfully, I will have celebrated at all the parishes by the end of next weekend.

Just as I have launched into a new assignment as your pastor, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati launched into Beacons of Light. After many questions, circulating emails, and Facebook posts, it is clear to me that there is a broad lack of knowledge and understanding of this initiative. Beacons of Light is a culmination of nearly thirty-eight years of pastoral planning in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that has moved us through three stages of planning to a place where we are now prepared to implement a major reorganization of the archdiocese. The purpose of this journey is to move with strength and purpose from a place of maintenance to mission; from just trying to merely hold onto our Catholic life and culture into a dynamic evangelizing missionary life that invites others into the life and love of Jesus Christ.

On June 19, 2022 we celebrated the 201st anniversary of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a long and storied history of dynamic Catholic presence in our nineteen counties of south and western Ohio. In that journey of years, the archdiocese has experienced the establishment of 306 parishes within its present territory. Circumstances over the years have caused the closure and merging of many, bringing us to our present 208 parishes. In 2005, those 208 parishes had been grouped into 109 regions which were pastored by 109 pastors. Between 2014 and 2019, through a survey of priests and actuarial work, it was recognized that this mode of operation was not sustainable. The conclusion was reached that, at best, we would have 60-70 men able to serve as pastors by 2026.

Over the past twelve years under Archbishop Schnurr, we have been blessed to ordain 50+ men to the priesthood and the number of seminarians portend well for our future. However, there are substantial numbers of priests (approximately 28%) who have and will reach retirement age by 2026. Over recent years the archdiocese has learned that younger priests need more time (a minimum of six years but more for most) before becoming pastors to protect their physical and spiritual health. While our total number of active priests will continue to trend downwards over the next few years, our future looks very bright as we have a top-notch seminary turning out good young priests. We must continue to pray for vocations for our archdiocese and to the Church. As a result, we will be praying the vocation prayer at the conclusion of the Prayers of the Faithful at every Mass to encourage more young men to answer the call to service as priests in the Church of Cincinnati.

Beacons of Light is an effort in bringing missionary zeal and new life to our archdiocese. The Beacons of Light initiative has taken us from 109 pastored regions comprised of 208 parishes to 57 pastored Families of Parishes still containing the 208 parishes for the foreseeable future. This scenario allows us to assign additional priests along with the pastors to each Family.

Which allows for shared and hopefully dynamic ministry to the members of our various Families of Parishes. Over the ensuing five years the 208 parishes will close and merge with one another in their Families becoming 57 canonical parishes. This will result with most of the new parishes having multiple church locations and many having multiple schools within their canonical boundaries. The family, however, has the responsibility to determine the best use of the Family’s resources for the proclamation of the Gospel. The bottom line, so as to ease everyone’s angst, is that if your current parish is healthy, Masses are well attended and there is a lively presence of people and ministry, then it is likely there will be no closure of the church. However, as the number of priests declines, capacity could determine Sunday locations for Mass. If the opposite exists and the parish is fundamentally not healthy, it is time to become the evangelizers they are called to be and bring new life to their parishes – if not - there should be consideration as to the viability of the parish and likewise the schools that presently exist.

Loss is never an easy emotion to deal with, but it is a reality in these situations, and we must be honest with ourselves. Faithful people have moved, as their economic condition in life have improved, they go off to college, graduate and move from home, they retire, etc. In the early years of this changing scenario the moves were from more centralized-close to the urban core neighborhoods to the suburbs and then in recent years to far off places in warmer areas of the country as businesses moved, jobs went elsewhere, and people retired, leaving us with too many church buildings, too few people and fewer priests. We have an important journey in rebuilding our Church in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and you are invited to join in and be involved. Firstly, prayer is the most important element of this endeavor and without it we will not succeed. Secondly, you must get involved in your parish. Not to protect the status- quo but to build up life in your parish, to evangelize, to work towards improving your liturgy if that is needed and to be welcoming and hospitable to all who come your way. Thirdly, support your priests and those in your parish who are leading these efforts. The fourth element, more prayer!

Through the month of August, I will begin meeting with Parish and Finance Councils. Several parishes need new councils formed and if asked, I hope you will consider joining the Council during this crucial time. Plans are also in the works to set up information nights to learn about Beacons of Light and the six key principles of Eucharist, Church, Leadership, Stewardship, Evangelization, and Love In Action. Watch the bulletin for articles and details.

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus,

Fr Matt Robben


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