Why are more Catholic Churches closing their doors?


June 25, 2020

By Ike Bendavid

Winooski VT – Three Catholic churches in Vermont are set to close within the next week– the latest sign of the times for Vermont’s largest church community. Our Ike Bendavid takes a look at what’s behind the closures and what’s next.

I’m told it’s several things. Weekly Mass attendance and access to other churches in the area make it easier to consolidate, but the main reason is not enough priests to lead the parishes in the state.

After near 90 years, St. Stephen’s Church in Winooski will ring the bells one last time this weekend.

The number of churchgoers has also been falling for years, driven by aging demographics, a decline in religious interest among younger people and priest sex abuse scandals that have driven away some parishioners.

According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, there were 142,000 Catholics in Vermont in 1990. In 2019, there were 112,000 statewide.

In 1990, there were 2,097 baptisms. In 2019, there were only 384.

Also in 1990, there were 1,290 Catholic funerals. Last year, there were 1,127.

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