Hartford Archdiocese plans to reorganize parishes, close churches as number of Roman Catholics in state drops

New Haven Register

By Ed Stannard, New Haven Register
POSTED: 12/27/16

A number of churches will be closed as the Archdiocese of Hartford solidifies plans to reorganize its 212 parishes, but church officials believe those remaining will be full of vibrant, energized Roman Catholics, focused on the church’s mission of spreading the gospel.

Final plans won’t be announced until spring but, according to a recently issued report, the archdiocese’s initial target is 114 parishes or “pastorates.” Some will have more than one church open for worship; in others, parishes will use a single campus. In each, there will be a pastor who may be assisted by associate priests or deacons, according to the report, “Stewards for Tomorrow,” which has been mailed to 186,000 households in the archdiocese. It can be found at www.stewardsfortomorrow.org.

“In most cases, that decision will be made at a local level,” said the Rev. James Shanley, vicar for pastoral planning for the archdiocese, which encompasses New Haven, Litchfield and Hartford counties. “In some instances the archdiocese might strongly recommend that a church be closed.”

The consolidation is necessary because there are fewer priests and fewer Catholics attending Mass than there were 50 years ago, when immigrants and other Catholics filled churches, Shanley said. “We probably have the right number of priests for the people that are going to Mass at the moment,” Shanley said, but many are nearing retirement age.

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