Parish closing plan to depend on clusters

Parish closing plan to depend on clusters

A Boston Herald article says decision-making about parish closings will start in local “clusters.” The clusters are small groupings of parishes based on location. For example, here in Salem we have the Salem Catholic Collaborative that gathers all the parishes of Salem. In places where there is one parish per town, the cluster may encompass several towns.

The article says that the clusters will make the initial recommendations for closings to the archbishop, hopefully with the input of local Catholics. That process has been used before, most recently here in Salem, and I’m not sure it’s going to avoid the rancor they hope it will.

In Salem, about 6 or 7 years ago, the cluster was asked to determine whether one of the six parishes should close. Everyone knew that St. Mary’s Italian should be the one. The congregation was tiny, the pastor was near-retirement, it sat less than a quarter-mile from four, larger parishes. But the debate lasted for years as the people of St. Mary’s fought tooth and nail. They said the process was biased against them from the start, that other parishes or the archdiocese wanted the valuable property, and so on. Eventually, St. Mary’s did close last year, but not without hard feelings. Even now, a lone woman stands in front of the church every day at lunchtime with a sign that says “Jesus loves St. Mary’s.”

I think that scene is going to be repeated a lot in the next few years. Nobody likes closing parishes, but I have to hope that the process unveiled next Tuesday is better than the old one.

  • I thought about making the process a bit more objective by assigning points to a parish based on Mass attendence, collections, baptisms, weddings, quality of the physical plant, etc.  I even imagine something like this is being done now.  I think the hardest cases are very small parishes where people have an intense attachment to their Church.

  • Here in the Boonies, I can see several closing.

    St. Mary’s in Rowley is number 340something and is 5 miles from St. Mary’s Georgetown and IC Newburyport, twice and 8 times the size respectively.

    St. Patrick’s in Groveland is in the same boat.  4 miles from Sacred Heaft in Haverhill (Bradford), and 5 Miles from St. Mary’s in Georgetown.  And it is 10th from the bottom.

    Interesting piece on [url=][/url] yesterday gave a downloadable ExCel spreadsheet of all the parishes and their sizes.

  • This is a very emotional issue.

    One thing to remember and take into consideration is how, we as “THE LAITY” have failed to foster vocations.  I asked a fellow in the Diaconate program the other day when the last time our parish had sent someone to the seminary, and he, a 20+ year member said “never”.

    What are we to expect.  Fostering vocations is everyone’s business.