Thomas Cronin
Thomas Cronin

Reflecting upon many years in the corporate world, I have vivid memories of developing strategic plans, territory plans and sales pipeline reports. Preparation and effective planning is integral to successful implementation of any organization’s goals or objectives and the Church is no different.

As I work with parishes on how we can best fulfill our mission to bring people closer to knowing and loving Jesus, I am impressed how many parishes have invested time developing a road map for how they plan to achieve this, but I have also come across just as many parishes that haven’t.
In my opinion, one of the first steps in assessing parish vitality is by completing a strategic planning tool known as a SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands forStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. These four areas can paint a very quick picture of the state of our parishes.

It is not my intent to bring a cookie-cutter “diocesan evangelization program” to our 126 parishes. I feel this way for several reasons including the uniqueness of each parish, diversity of parish resources (both financial and personnel), parish cultures, demographics and parish leadership. I have been working with many parishes in completing a parish SWOT analysis and have found it to be a foundational step in developing a plan to assess whether a parish is thriving or just surviving. It’s difficult to take what’s good at a parish and make it great or address substantial areas of deficiency when they have yet to be identified.

After just a few parish meetings in my diocesan role, I quickly realized that many in parish leadership have an overly optimistic view of the state of their parish. Everyone tells me how great their parish is — and yes, there are many great parishes and amazing parish experiences, but there is also much room for improvement. Taking the time to do an honest and unbiased SWOT Analysis can be quite valuable and I encourage all parishes to complete one. It does not have to be complex; the hardest part may be just getting started. I am honored to assist in any way and greatly enjoy this type of collaboration with our parishes. Remember, I am just a phone call or email away.

Many people don’t like to refer to their parish or the Church as a business, but in my opinion, we must. Allow me to clarify that I am not alluding to the organization’s finances at all, I am referring to being more mission-oriented and more purposeful. Do we critically assess if every action we take and every dollar we spend will help us best fulfill our mission? We need to operate with urgency and efficiency while being good stewards of our resources.

Please contact me to assist in getting your parish SWOT Analysis started or with any questions about boosting evangelization efforts at your parish at or by visiting https://www.rcda.
org/evangelization. Follow me on Instagram: tom_rcda