For 20 years Michael Cieslak served as chair of the Catholic Research Forum (CRF), an association of researchers and planners interested in applied research that is affiliated with the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development (CPPCD).
With the CRF he developed procedures for estimating Catholic population by county, a methodology that was endorsed by the Committee on Priorities and Plans of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership project, he served on the Multiple Parish Pastoring Committee, and he was an author of the National Study of Parish Reorganization. For that work, the small team of which he was a part earned the CPPCD’s prestigious Lumen Gentium Award in 2008.
In 2016 the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) presented Dr. Cieslak the Rev. Louis J. Luzbetak Award for Exemplary Church Research. He has been published in the Review of Religious Research and regularly presents papers on applied research at the Religious Research Association annual meeting. Dr. Cieslak’s chapter “The Consequences of Pastoral Leadership” can be found in Chuck Zech's book, The Parish Management Handbook (Twenty-Third Publications, 2003).
Dr. Cieslak also is Director of Research & Planning for the Rockford Diocese, a position he has held since earning his doctorate from Northern Illinois University in 1983. In this position he is responsible for strategic planning, research and evaluation. He also serves as executive secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. In 2008 he received the papal honor of Knighthood in the Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Dr. Cieslak is co-chair of the Patient Family Advisory Council for SwedishAmerican Hospital in Rockford, a division of the UW Health System, Madison, WI.