Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


5,600 fill out pastoral planning survey as of March 18

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published March 20, 2014

ATLANTA—The Archdiocese of Atlanta has received more than 5,600 online responses to the survey that will ultimately help leaders craft a pastoral plan for the direction of the church over the next five years.

The survey, gauging people’s opinions on key areas of their faith lives, will be available in paper format and online through Sunday, March 23.

According to Jenny Scheb, planning analyst with the archdiocesan Office of Planning and Research, most of the responses have been in English. The five other languages in which the survey is available account for 361 of the surveys submitted as of March 18.

Scheb said that the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, where the invitation to participate was featured on their website, has had the largest number of respondents from one parish with 303.

The other parishes in the top 10 for number of responses are: St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell; St. Brendan Church, Cumming; St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek; St. Monica Church, Duluth; St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Alpharetta; Prince of Peace Church, Flowery Branch; St. Joseph Church, Marietta; All Saints Church, Dunwoody; and St. Benedict Church, Johns Creek.

Scheb has also received a large number of paper responses from St. Joseph Church in Dalton.

The survey is designed to take approximately 15 minutes and is for practicing Catholics, lapsed Catholics, and those interested in the church. Questions address how parishes and missions are meeting spiritual needs, how well the faith is understood, and how it is practiced.

“Ninety-seven percent of respondents currently attend Mass at a parish,” said Scheb.

So far, nearly a third of respondents, or 31.8 percent, identify themselves as 65 or older. Those who are 18 to 24 years old have provided the fewest responses to date, accounting for 2 percent. The rest of the age distribution among respondents as of March 18 was: 25-34 years, 4.9 percent; 35-44 years, 12.4 percent; 45-54 years, 23.9 percent; and 55-65 years, 25 percent.

In a letter to the people and recorded invitation at, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory strongly encouraged Catholics to take part in the survey so the results will be truly helpful in identifying and meeting key pastoral needs in the rapidly growing archdiocese. A similar message in Spanish by Bishop Luis R. Zarama, auxiliary bishop, is also on the website.

“Your participation in this archdiocesan assessment will ensure that the most critical issues are identified,” Archbishop Gregory said.

In April, the key issues will be culled from the survey responses. Then parishes will choose delegates to meet regionally and gather input over the summer from fellow parishioners to form three recommendations of action per issue.

In September, a convocation of priests will assemble to discuss the key issues and develop its own recommendations. By late fall, parish groups will convene to discuss the points, making final recommendations at a deanery-wide meeting.

By year’s end, the archbishop will select recommendations to implement with the goal of welcoming people back to the church and re-energizing the faithful.

Implementation of the official pastoral plan is slated for January 2015.

The pastoral plan initiative is separate from the Vatican survey on family life recently conducted.