Back at the beginning of the month, I mentioned a rumor I’d heard that a meeting set for all Boston priests with Archbishop O’Malley on December 6 would present a list of parishes to be closed. It turns out that the rumor wasn’t completely correct, but wasn’t wrong either. Apparently, O’Malley will present a process for parish closings. So while specific parishes won’t be named, a process will likely begin to close a number of parishes, especially those that are redundant or declining. The article says that the evaluation process will last several months and will result in a list of churches to close.
I doubt finances alone will dictate closure. If that were the case, there would be no parishes in the inner city. But parishes with poor finances and declining attendance near other, better-performing parishes will probably close.
As for my town of Salem, I suspect we’ll lose at least another parish, maybe two. St. John the Baptist seems secure as it has a thriving immigrant Polish population and other Polish churches in the area have been closed recently. St. Joseph’s might be safe because it has a large immigrant Spanish-speaking population and a thriving school. That leaves St. Ann’s, a small parish with a relatively new building; St. James, which doesn’t have a pastor now and lost a major source of income when the city stopped renting its school building; and Immaculate Conception, my parish which has had a slight decline in attendance in recent years. My guess would be that St. Ann’s is first and St. James is second. But that’s just a guess.
Update: Of course, the Boston Globe article quotes the usual suspects. If you only read the Globe, you’d think the only priests in the Archdiocese of Boston are Fr. Robert Bullock, leader of the liberal Boston Priests Forum, and Fr. Walter Cuenin, the man behind the Priests Forum and Voice of the Faithful.