Make it 75 parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston that will close this year. The archdiocese announced that 10 parishes in the cities of Lowell and Lawrence will close too. This is not unexpected. The closure process for these two towns was on a separate track from the beginning and we had been told that the announcements would be made by the end of the summer.
Six of 13 parishes in Lowell and four of Lawrence’s 7 parishes will close. The fact is that many of the parishes in these old mill towns were built for particular ethnic groups to care for immigrants working in those mills. That has all changed now, especially the idea of having separate parishes for different ethnic backgrounds. And many of the descendants of those mill workers have moved to the suburbs, leaving many of the churches empty.
It’s interesting that in 2001, before the Scandal broke, there was talk of a diocese being carved out of the Archdiocese of Boston to be based in Lowell. It wuld have encompassed much of the northern part of the archdiocese. But then the Scandal came, focuses changed, and I think a new recognition was born that said that the number of parishes and Catholics was deceiving and the Church in Massachusetts was not as healthy as seemed. With all these parish closings, I think the idea of a new diocese has been laid to rest pretty convincingly.