The local parish church and school have long played a major role in the lives of Catholic families. But all that is changing.
Now, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, MN, 21 parishes (of 213) will be closed, and others will be "clustered" with shared staff, programs, and pastors.
Five parishes in St. Paul, and three more in Minneapolis, will be among those to close their doors to worshippers. Down the street from my home, the former Holy Family Catholic Church is now a mosque. My own mother's suburban church will be shuttered, as well. Many Catholic schools are also expected to shut down.
Demographic changes, priest shortage, and financial pressures are behind this retrenchment. Many families will lose their long established home parish identities.
I believe this bodes ill for the church, as a strong and vital force in Catholic family life.
Back in Boston, according to Boston.com, there has been a protest against parish closures. Paul Hughes, a leader of the protesters occupying the closed St. James the Great parish in Wellesley, said, "To me it's a reflection of the comparison of how the Catholic religion was back in the era of Pope John XXIII, when it was vibrant and strong, and the Catholic religion we have today, which reflects a defensive posture and a rigid structure."
Are parishes being closed in your community?
What can be done to stem this disaster?