Skip to comments.(RC) Archdiocese considers merger, priest sharing
Posted on 09/03/2006 5:28:52 AM PDT by NYer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville would merge 17 parishes into six, with several others sharing facilities, priests and staff under a proposal being considered by the church.
The archdiocese's planning commission also recommended a centralized school system, rather than the parish-based method used now.
Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer of the archdiocese, said the idea behind the planning process is to start a dialogue about the future of the archdiocese.
"We now have to find out whether ... the proposals will be affirmed by the local regions. They may come up with an alternative," Reynolds said.
The parishes submitted many of the proposals after being asked to take part in the yearlong planning process because of population shifts and a drop in the number of priests.
Louisville isn't alone in considering parish mergers as a shortage of priests hits American urban dioceses. In some places, such as Boston, heavy protests have accompanied closure announcements.
Nearly half the parishes in the Louisville archdiocese are already sharing priests.
The parishes, regions and planning commission must still review the various proposals before they go to Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly or his successor in December. Kelly is awaiting word from the Vatican on his replacement after resigning after turning 75 in July.
The archdiocese created St. Andrew Academy last year in a merger of the St. Polycarp, St. Clement and Our Lady of Consolation schools. Parents at that school said the proposed changes weren't problematic, even if they wouldn't be popular.
"There are just not enough priests ... or nuns who teach any more," said Janet Hobbs, a member of St. Clement parish.
The Rev. Bill Medley, pastor of Mother of Good Counsel, noted that most of the recommendations "came from the people" in the archdiocese's 122 parishes. In the 1990s, a commission that included Medley made the decisions that led to 12 parishes closing or merging, a process that hurt many people, he said.
The Rev. Tom Gentile, pastor of St. Helen, said the proposed merger of his and two other parishes stems from the same trends that had already prompted the three churches to create a regional school.
"The population has moved and it's an older area," he said. "You've got priests retiring. ... The thing is not that we're not doing good, but we could do better together."