Bigger Picture of Diocese Closings

By Lisa Roberson
The Chronicle-Telegram
March 15, 2009

The closure of local churches is just one piece of a much larger puzzle that started more than two years ago when the diocese announced its Vibrant Parish Plan. Faced with population shifts that saw Catholics move farther from urban areas, financial hardships and fewer priests, it was decided to address the challenges by comprehensively reconfiguring the diocese in a way that allows for better use of the church’s resources as well as achieves vibrancy for each parish in the eight-county area the diocese makes up.

Since then, the 224 churches in the diocese were grouped in collaborative clusters. It took months of consideration to reach the decision.

The plan will result in 52 fewer parishes by June 30, 2010.

Twenty-nine of the diocese’s 224 parishes will close, while 41 parishes have been instructed to merge with one or more neighboring parishes, resulting in the creation of 18 new, combined parishes — for a total net reduction of 52 parishes. A complete list of closings will be announced today.

“Since we began this process, our region and our world have encountered economic changes and difficulties that were not anticipated. These conditions have adversely impacted every aspect of the Church — the lives and enterprises of our people, the financial support of parishes and schools, our Catholic Churches services, and the value and sale of closed properties,” Lennon said in a letter to the Rev. David Novak of Holy Trinity Church in Lorain, explaining his rationale for the Vibrant Parish Plan. “We will need to move forward in ways that give witness to understanding and compassion for what these economic realities mean in people lives, while recognizing the need for careful stewardship in how we equitably use the limited resources we have. The economic realities only intensify some of the challenges with regard to changing demographics, finances and fewer priests, and compel us to take the necessary steps now that will enable us to provide a strong and lasting Catholic presence in every area of our diocese.”


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