If the people of the Boston archdiocese thought their parish reconfiguration was tough, they should see what the Catholics of Maine’s sole diocese in Portland are up to. Although, I think they’ve learned the difficult lessons that Bostonians learned the hard way and their reorg will be much less painful. Not surprising since Bishop Richard Malone was auxiliary in Boston and saw how not to do it.
The plan, to be fully implemented by 2010, reduces the number of parish groupings, called clusters, in the diocese from 31 to 27. It also assigns a certain number of priests to each cluster.
... Over the past year, committees in each cluster have worked through the process outlined last year using information from individual churches.
Each parish has conducted an inventory that included average weekly Mass attendance, an assessment of the church building and related properties such as a rectory or parish hall, and a description of the community’s spiritual life.
It will be up to each cluster to recommend to the bishop whether church buildings will be closed or sold, how cluster councils and committees will be structured, and when and where Masses will be celebrated. The final decision on the dispensation of property will be Malone’s.
This is how it should have been done in Boston, instead of the Steel-Cage Deathmatches pitting neighbor v. neighbor in a bid to preserve their own parish. I said all along that each parish should have been required to make a self-assessment and then pitch their case to the archdiocese and let the decision be made by our leaders. Instead, by having each Boston cluster have to come up with two possible parishes to close, even when everyone knew that not every cluster would have even one parish close, created more angst, stress, and rancor than there needed to be.
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