Long Range Plan Summary and Updates

Updated May 13, 2019



In February 2017, we began a parish planning process as part of a 3-year plan to maintain and enhance the vibrancy of our St. Michael community. Nearly 1,100 people participated in a parish online survey with an additional 200+ participating in a series of 23 listening sessions. Some 50 volunteers helped collect the data from these sessions, and subsequently write the goals and objectives for the parish Long Range Plan derived from the seven most frequently mentioned topics listed here.

  1. Parish Unity
  2. Faith Formation
  3. Making Faith Relevant
  4. Stewardship
  5. Communications
  6. Facilities
  7. Parking

In September 2017, the plan was approved by Monsignor Doug, printed and distributed to interested parishioners both in print and online via our parish website in 4Q 2017. Two years after initiating our parish Long Range Planning process, there are some exciting implementation results to share as we continue into the future.  All these developments are in direct response to our parishioners input and requests from the planning process.  Each of the seven sections outlined in the Long Range Plan are listed below along with the accomplishments for that particular section.  If you have questions or comments, please contact Larry McAnallen at [email protected] or 919-468-6180.

Parish Unity:

Goal 1: Make our large parish community feel more like a small community where all feel welcome and accepted.  (Completed for year 1; ongoing)

We conducted the first parish survey and received excellent feedback in the summer of 2018.  Originally intended to be conducted semi-annually, we decided an annual survey would be adequate and would help avoid survey fatigue. 

Goal 2: Create more social engagement opportunities for parishioners to experience community.  (Excellent progress; more work to do)

The primary objective of this goal is to establish a Social Committee to plan and conduct events intended to foster a greater sense of community at St. Michael and create more opportunities for relationship building among our diverse population. We recruited two chairpersons to run this committee in the fall of 2018. For personal reasons and amidst a downturn in our offertory collections, the chairpersons resigned in late 2018.  We are still looking for new leadership for this committee at this time.  Anyone interested in helping out should contact Peggy Lane at [email protected] or 919-468-6168. 

One way the Committee has supported Parish Unity since its establishment was by helping to host our 2018 St. Michael Feast Day celebrations which were held after each of the Masses during the last weekend in September. In addition to the members themselves, the Committee sought additional hosts by reaching out to our parish school families. 

Further enhancement of our parish unity has been supported by our many ongoing programs which have incorporated social elements into their events.  Some examples of this include: New Member Socials for welcoming new parishioners to St. Michael and the Senior Socials that occur monthly to engage our senior citizens.  Other examples include the Mother-Daughter Tea, the Women's Communion Breakfast, the Married Couples Mass and Dinner, the Family Glow Dance Party and The Choice Wine series. 

Goal 3: Increase the sense of community inclusiveness for all diverse cultures. (Some progress; more to do)

The primary objective of this goal is to increase the number of intercultural/language Masses and celebrations.  Pastoral Council Diversity Committee will work with the Social Committee to leverage their combined efforts to help achieve this goal.  To date, we have celebrated many Masses throughout the year that incorporate Latin and Spanish in the Mass and the music during the Mass.  During the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel in 2017 and 2018, we served refreshments and a selection of international hors d'oeuvres under the tent in front of the church, inviting parishioners to experience a sense of community and celebration for our patron saint's feast day. 

Goal 4: Foster the sense of feeling "at home" by enabling parishioners to utilize the grounds and create space for interaction. (Minimal progress for a valid reason)

This goal is linked to the Facility Scheduling process in the Facilities section and dependent upon our anticipated new software, ACS Technologies' The Realm; expected implementation is 2H2019. There are planned renovations of some facilities that will also have an impact on this section of the plan.

Faith Formation:

Goal 1: Create engaging formation programs for all parishioners.  (Excellent progress)  

The objective for this goal is to enliven adult parishioners with programs that strengthen their knowledge of their Catholic faith and their commitment to everyday stewardship.

In a collaborative effort with the Making Faith Relevant team, the Faith Formation department delivered our first Apologetics class which helps our parishioners who want to know more about their faith and become more evangelical in their day to day lives. Our central belief is that a strong family unit is essential to create strong communities and a meaningful society. 

Additionally, the following outstanding programs were added to the 2018-2019 schedule:

Opening Your Heart... The Starting Point
Enabling women to know Christ through scripture

Two Sessions Available!
Tuesdays 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Tuesdays 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Beginning Sept 18   |   22 sessions    |   Materials Cost $40 per person 

Opening Your Heart explores the fundamental questions of our Catholic faith and our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We’ll dig into topics like prayer, reading the Bible, the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and how to deal with suffering that feels senseless. As questions arise in our selves during the study, we’ll be challenged to open our hearts to the only One who can bring the healing and transformation that we so desire.  Supplemental talks focused on setting priorities and living purposefully accompany this study guide.  This Bible study is an incredibly effective guide to deep, lasting transformation of the heart. Join us as we explore the core questions that we need to wrestle with if we want to experience all that God has for us.

For more info: https://walkingwithpurpose.com/bible_studies/opening-your-heart-101/


OREMUS - A GUIDE TO CATHOLIC PRAYER  (Began Feb. 5, 2019 – Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)

In this eight-part series, you will be guided through simple, yet profound steps to an effective and fruitful prayer life. You will discover how God speaks to you, even in the smallest encounters. Facilitated by Dave Wulff. To register follow this link.


Walk through the Liturgy with Bishop Barron and you will be transformed through insights on this most privileged and intimate encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.  See how the Mass brings us out of the fallen world and into the heavenly realm, how it resonates with a call from God and a response from his people, the Church, and most importantly, how we are intimately joined with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus through the Holy Eucharist.  The Mass will help you understand how to fully, consciously, and actively participate in the source and summit of the Christian life.

Morning session Thursdays, January 17, 2019 through February 28, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  (Facilitated by Beth Biette) To register for the mornings follow this link.

Evening session Mondays, January 28, 2019 through March 11, 2019  from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.  (Facilitated by Judy Shallcross) To register for the evenings follow this link.



Semester 1
Thursdays, 6:30 a.m. - 7:45 a.m., Sept 20 - Dec 20
13 sessions    |    Free program; donations as desired for available reference materials

Semester 2
Thursdays, 6:30 a.m. - 7:45 a.m., Jan 24 - May 23
13 sessions    |    Free program; donations as desired for available reference materials

Each session consists of a 30-minute video featuring Steve Bollman, founder of TMIY, and 30 minutes of small group discussion. The videos are superbly done and with compelling content. The small group discussion leads to new and lasting relationships with other participants.

Goal 2: Create engaging formation programs for our youngest parishioners.  (Good progress; more to do)

The objective of this goal is to create appealing programs that will engage our youth in formation and everyday stewardship with a primary focus on our Confirmation program. 


During the 2018-2019 school year, we reorganized the curriculum for our middle school and Confirmation programs.  We have also begun the effort to align our English and Hispanic programs together.  When this alignment is completed for the 2019-2020 school year, it will provide more scheduling flexibility and economies of scale.  Based on the feedback from parishioners, adjusting our Confirmation programs will better meet the needs of our families.  Many of our programs have moved toward a small group and mentoring model which we like and expect to continue. 

6/7 Grade Class

We have restructured our 6th and 7th grade class with gender based small groups.  Recent studies and program show at this age the students can share more openly and engage more deeply in gender-based groups.  They work with the same small group leader from week to week.  There is a large group presentation followed by breakouts with activities in the small groups.  The primary goal with this age group is a real encounter with Christ.  We focus on this goal by presenting the units on God as Creator and the Person of Jesus.  This allows the students to ask questions about faith and science, including creation.  It also gives them the opportunity to participate in Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.  We will conclude the year with a Rally in Bond Park.

Next year, we will continue the program finishing the last unit on the Creed and beginning our study of Morality.  We expect to add an additional time offering for 2019-2020.  Our greatest need at this point is for volunteers, particularly males.  Future enhancements we are planning include offering more service and social opportunities as well as opportunities for parent formation.


Year 1 Confirmation preparation is using the CHOSEN program in a large group to small group format.  They meet with the same groups and group leaders and will continue into next year in these same groups.  Next year, they will conclude the CHOSEN program and replace it with a program tailored specifically for our parish with more service, social and parent opportunities. 

High School

We have changed the meeting day for our high school program from Sunday to Wednesday evening which is far more convenient for high school students.  The focus of this group is service and Catholic Social Justice, vocation and witness of the faith, and fellowship.  We have had several speakers talk about their call to serve in different capacities.  Our plans include apologetics lessons to learn more about our faith and then practice expressing those to other people in loving ways.

Also, for our high school girls, we have a small mentoring group called Challenge.  It is a pre-designed program that focuses on the Catholic faith, service and fellowship.  This group engages high school students as mentors and middle school students as participants.  Next year, we hope to offer both Challenge and the boys’ corresponding program, Conquest.  From a broader perspective, we are hoping to have a more comprehensive high school program next year and are considering various options.

Making Faith Relevant:

Goal 1: To build faith and strengthen community.  (Excellent progress; still work to do on continuous improvement via surveying attendees and tracking results)

The objective of this goal is to provide opportunities where parishioners understand and use their Catholic faith in a compassionate way. We have a number of programs at St. Michael designed to help achieve this goal.

  • Our first Apologetics class was conducted in 2018.  It's designed to help parishioners learn more about their faith and become more evangelical in their day to day lives. Our central belief is that a strong family unit is essential to create strong communities and a meaningful society.
  • The JustFaith program is a 26-week program that runs every other year.  Rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, this program invites participants to live more simply, love more compassionately, and make a difference in the world. Some of the most engaged parishioners at St. Michael are graduates of the JustFaith curriculum.
  • That Man Is You! and The Choice Wine, both from Paradisus Dei, are two excellent programs that St. Michael has sponsored.  Each features a series of meetings that incorporate small group discussions.  That Man Is You! helps develop authentic male leadership while The Choice Wine features 7 steps to a superabundant marriage!

Other programs that support this long range goal include the Mother-Daughter Tea, Women's Communion Breakfast, Married Couples Mass and Dinner, Family Glow Dance Party and the men's group program Pathway to Discipleship. 

Goal 2: Create a Social Outreach Committee. (Completed and regular meetings underway; this is intended to be an ongoing committee for continual focus) 

In December 2018, a Social Outreach committee was established under our Ministry and Formation organization. This volunteer group exists to provide parishioner direction and to stimulate growth in our ministries that support outreach, service and social justice.  Parishioners interested in joining this Social Outreach committee should contact Deacon Mark Westrick at [email protected] or 919-468-6108.


Goal 1: Create a Stewardship Committee (Moderate progress; more work to do)

We are in the early stages of creating an annual Stewardship process to help make everyday stewardship a way of life at St. Michael.  This will involve education to help all parishioners understand what real stewardship is and an annual Stewardship process to help create everyday stewards within our parish community. The intent is to get more involvement from all parishioners as an integral part of our parish "family" and help transform our megachurch into a large neighborhood of involved and caring parishioners.

The objective of this goal is to assist in the promotion of a stewardship way of life at St. Michael year-round. We will recruit and assemble a Stewardship Committee to advise and steer the pastor and the parishioners in their journey to adopting a Stewardship way of life. 

Some initial recruits have been made in re-establishing the Stewardship Committee.  Our plan is to expand the existing New Member Welcome Committee to take on the additional responsibilities of the Stewardship Committee as outlined in the Long Range Plan.  Target completion for the establishment of the Stewardship Committee is by year-end 2019.

Goal 2: Establish a formal annual stewardship process (Good progress identifying best practice models for modeling the St. Michael Stewardship program)

The Stewardship Committee will outline the annual process when the committee has been recruited and fully understand the team's objective.  We are currently modeling a Stewardship process based upon best practice models in other Catholic parishes, for implementation in fiscal 2020.

The 2018 Stewardship Report, an annual report, is an excellent summary of the everyday stewardship focus at St. Michael the Archangel. It is available for viewing or downloading by clicking on the image below.

Goals 3 and 4: Years 2 and 3 of Stewardship Committee/process

The primary objective is to continually increase the overall level of parish participation.  The target is to increase by 5% each year. 


Goal 1: Improve the quality and effectiveness of the communication with our parishioners (Excellent progress; completed on schedule)

There were multiple objectives with this goal. We wanted to coordinate the use of all available communication channels for maximum results. We called for a parish communications plan to be implemented campus-wide with the parish staff and the schools.

Our parishioners asked us to work harder to communicate better, and we have. By adding a Communications Manager to our staff in August 2017, we were able to enhance and develop our parish communications and branding even further. We have a parish Communications Plan that has been shared with the staff campus wide; to download a copy, click here.  We’ve added a “Resources” section to our parish website — a “one-stop shop” for important and useful resources to complement our focus on community, family life and social action. Check out the new Pinterest boards in the Resources section as well as the myriad of online Faith Formation videos, books, recordings and more on FORMED — a FREE online library available to our parish family from anywhere in the world!

We have expanded our Livestream programming to enable parishioners to share in the activities of our parish even when schedule conflicts keep them from attending in person. We’ve incorporated lots of multi-media on our parish website and Social Media channels for more interesting and comprehensive communications. We have also conducted more online surveys to make sure we understand what you want to see in your parish. There is also a new feature under Contact Us where parishioners can suggest improvements to our website where we are getting a number of suggestions for positive improvement. Your opinions matter, so let us hear your thoughts on how we can continue to improve our website.  

Based on parishioner input, and with an ongoing focus on continuous improvement, we made some significant changes to our website in mid-February 2019 to streamline the homepage with a cleaner look, add a slideshow to better highlight upcoming events and improve the overall user experience.  Other aesthetic enhancements were added in April 2019; we hope you like what you see!

Click here or on the image above to review the results of the recent Parish Communications Survey conducted during the summer of 2018. This includes the recommendations to our parish staff on how to enhance their individual and collective service to our parish community.


Goal 1: Promote a clear understanding of the process in use (Measurable progress with online room reservation implementation)

The primary objective of this goal is to promote a clear understanding of the process in use for scheduling our parish facilities.  A copy of the most recent Facilities Internal Processes is available for your review. Note that we now offer online room requests via our website.  To book a room, go to our website at www.stmichaelcary.org --> Contact Us --> Book a Room.

Goal 2: Understand the current facility utilization campus-wide (Good progress; not yet complete)

The objective here is to quantify our existing utilization of facilities to set the stage for potential enhancements that might lead to even higher utilization. 

Goal 3: Maximize facilities scheduling process and procedures (Delayed due to anticipated back office software update)

The objective of this goal is to utilize outside resources to evaluate our current scheduling procedures and make improvements where possible. This effort is going to be delayed for good reasons. We are currently evaluating a new back office integrated solution from ACS Technologies that will replace our existing individual back office modules. The Realm has something for everyone in your church and provides modern ways to stay connected as a church family. We expect to set an implementation date for sometime in 2019. Once the new software has been implemented successfully, we will be in a better position to assess if and how we might further improve our facility scheduling processes.

Goal 4: Create a comprehensive list of potential facilities expansion options based on the evaluation data completed

After analyzing the current facilities and our needs, a committee is working on plans to develop appropriate meeting space.  These plans are expected to take shape sometime in 2019.  

In addition to the facilities scheduling enhancements, there are lots of facilities-related plans in place. During the 2018 Christmas break, some much needed HVAC enhancements were made and we installed a new sound system in the Parish Center as we continue to act as good stewards and keep our campus in good repair. In 2019, we will expand our columbarium and are finalizing plans for that now (Q12019).  All of these enhancements and repairs are possible as a result of our parishioners' generosity.  


Goal 1: Validate existing parking lot issues, particularly considering the "new landscape" - Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral (July 2017), new St. Mary Magdalene Church (July 2017) and Mother Teresa Mission on a path to become a parish. (Excellent progress; currently vetting potential solutions and implementation plans)

The objectives associated with this goal include creating a summary of the team's findings, documenting a prioritized list of potential parking solutions and hiring a professional to study traffic flow and provide recommendations for an improved parking experience for our parishioners. The following paragraphs will summarize our progress to-date relative to this goal and its specific objectives.

In September, 2015 an impact study was conducted by a couple volunteers with the help of a few staff members to assess the potential impact on the membership of St. Michael of the planned building of the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, the new church at St. Mary Magdalene in Apex and the eventual creation of a new parish with the former Green Hope Station, now Mother Teresa Mission. The study estimated the potential impact on the membership at St. Michael by the year 2020.

With the help of the Diocesan staff, we compared fiscal 2018 year-end numbers for registered families with the estimates from the 2015 study.  It would appear there has been a rebalancing of registered families within the zip codes that make up the St. Michael parish community.  According to the Diocese, approximately 392 families left St. Michael during fiscal 2018.  There has been a corresponding decrease in offertory contributions during and since that time that indicates a "new norm" for registered families and offertory donations in our parish.

Parking issues have been one of our primary concerns since before 2015 and the impact study.  With the size of our parish, the number of Masses we celebrate routinely and the abundance of activities on our campus week in and week out, we frequently deal with parking issues. Through an initiative from our Finance Council, a parking implementation committee met with a traffic engineering company in 2017. The firm analyzed our existing campus layout and proposed a plan to address parking and traffic flow on our campus. Taking into consideration the shifting local parish populations mentioned above as well as city regulations regarding expanding parking spaces, the firm determined that our current focus should be primarily on traffic flow. The first decision made was to change the Mass times to allow more time between Masses to alleviate the traffic flow problems resulting from the outflow from one Mass and the inflow for the next. In September 2017, we implemented a new Mass schedule as a no cost approach to improve traffic floor.  It was decided that more extensive parking flow changes will be part of a larger long-term plan which will include completion of the appropriate meeting space referenced in the Facilities section above. We will share specifics of the planned changes to our parking flow as soon as they are available.

Goal 2: Create a parking plan that works in concert with the facilities planning team addressing long range parking issues (Solid progress with a very complex problem)

The parking committee that was formed in 2017 made a conscious decision to combine the discussions and plans for parking and facilities changes since they are inextricably tied together.  While assessing the possible moves to improve the parking lot experience at St. Michael, parishioner-owned Giant Development offered to help St. Michael connect our two properties - the main campus with the Conference Center next door.  We are working to coordinate the timing and implementation of this generous offer with planned renovations for the Conference Center.  Once plans are finalized, we will provide a more comprehensive update.  Our sincere gratitude goes out to Giant Development for this generous offer as well as the growing number of projects they have completed on our campus over the last couple years!

There is lots more to come as we continue to work our Long Range Plan, so stay tuned. Better yet, call the Parish Office (919-468-6100).

Related Long Range Plan Updates

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June 2017 - Pg.1 Sept 2017 - Pg.1 March 2018 - Pg.2 June 2018 - Pg.4

A Broader Parish Perspective

Chart 1 below shows many of the accomplishment and enhancements we have made within our parish community over the last 3 years.  This focus on continuous improvement includes the Long Range Plan but also includes investments we have made as good stewards of your generous contributions. Although our Long Range Plan will guide many of our efforts over the next 2+ years, there will always be other new and related initiatives designed to help keep our parish campus lovely and our community strong.

Chart 1