Heartache for New York’s Catholics as Church Closings Are Announced
Joseph P.C - Chennai (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
There were gasps and tears at Holy Rosary Church in East Harlem. At Sacred Heart in Mount Vernon, congregants shared mournful embraces. And at Our Lady of Peace on the East Side, parishioners pledged a fight.
Across the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, a day of reckoning arrived on Sunday, as Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan announced how scores of parishes would be affected by the largest reorganization in the history of the archdiocese.
From Staten Island to the Catskills, there was anguish for congregations that learned that their churches would be effectively shuttered and relief among those whose parishes were spared.
And at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and in interviews, Cardinal Dolan, the executor of the changes, sought to explain what they would mean for the 368 parishes he oversees and the 2.8 million Catholics living in communities served by those churches.
“I can well understand the frustration, the anger, the confusion of our people, and I apologize for it, because I am the agent of it,” he said in an interview on Sunday afternoon. “But this is about the future, this is about strength and renewal, and we will get through this.”
In all, 112 parishes will be merged to create 55 new parishes, the archdiocese announced. In 31 of those new parishes, one of the churches will no longer be used for regular services, meaning those churches will be effectively closed by August.
In the remaining mergers, both churches in the combined parish will remain open, a decision that was met with hopeful cheers at some of those churches on Sunday. The savings from such consolidations will come primarily through shared administrative costs.
The Brooklyn Diocese, which includes Queens, faced similar challenges and undertook a similar process, reducing its total number of parishes to 187 today from 199 in 2009.
The reorganization announced on Sunday has been long in coming, reflecting demographic trends that have plagued Roman Catholic dioceses across much of the nation for decades. The number of priests has fallen each year, as retirements outpace ordinations. And attendance has been declining; as of 2013, only about 12 percent of the New York archdiocese’s 2.8 million Catholics regularly attended Sunday Mass, according to the archdiocese.