Shuttered Churches/Parish Consolidation


Are parishes closing in your area? Merging parishes? What events led up to such measures? What has resulted in the combined parish? More giving/stewardship…or a different direction?


In my hometown, the Church I grew up in and was married in is now closed. They built a much larger church just outside of town, and combined two parishes together. I think this was done because both parishes were growing, and neither one had enough room. They had said we would be able to keep the old parishes open, but sadly that didn’t wind up happening.

Still, it shows that there is growth, so that’s a good thing.


lots of merges in St. Louis over the past decade due to opulation shifts to the burbs, and declining school enrollments.


Yes my hometown church that my parents were married in, that myself and all of my siblings received the Sacraments in, including myself and hubby getting married in, has closed due to some MAJOR structural issues but it looks like the repairs are going to be too far out of the $$$$$ reach of the parishioners there to fix it or even rebuild smaller. I HATE to even think that this Church that has been there for a VERY LONG TIME would close for good. PLEASE PRAY for all of the Parishioners that now have to go to other Churches close by.


A lot of reasons. The population of Pittsburgh overall is less than 1/2 of what it was 60 years ago. Ethnic groups are no longer concentrated in the old neighborhoods. Other churches closed because of new highways, new non-residential development moving in. Catholic populations moving to the suburbs (where new churches were built) and being replaced by new populations with non-catholic religious traditions.

Change is a normative thing.


I grew up in Pittsburgh, but that was a long time ago. I am dismayed to see how many parishes are shared/consolidated there.

Out here in southern Ca, it’s a different story. As secular, de facto, as this area is, there is no apparent shortage of churches.

The one luxury I afford myself is getting my hair styled once a week. The lady who does it is 20 minutes to half hour away from my house.

In that trip, I literally pass by 3 Catholic Churches. Two of them I sometimes attend. (The one I normally go to isn’t any of those… in a different direction of travel).

Mentally going through that trip, I think there are something over 20 churches, including two LDS, two JW, Methodist, Episcopalian, four fundamentalist/ non-denom tiny “Christian”, a Baptist, a Jewish synagogue, two “prosperity” (name it and claim it), a couple Evangelical, and a couple I’m not sure what they are churches.


Our parish merged 4 into one newly named parish about 5 years ago. All church buildings are still used, it is only the number of masses available that has changed. We are in a sort of rural mountain area, and the population has a high number of senior citizens that cannot travel far to mass if they shut down buildings. i am sure that eventually, things will be reassessed.


I’m sorry about that experience, while it sounds like there was a good rationale, I can understand how putting behind a lot of history wasn’t the easiest thing for many in your community and that of your neighbor’s. Hope it all works out for your new parish community in the end.

Do you think it was a good move, I understand the new building is apparently meant to better accommodate both congregations into one unified congregation (which may mean more ministries and communities due to scale) but what about the communities from the old parishes, didn’t shuttering those buildings mean losing opportunities to connect and provide outreach (and evangelization?) to the two local neighborhoods?

Branching from this topic, do you think we may end up seeing the rise of mega-parishes in the future possible due to reasons like consolidation for reasons? Could this end up being a boon since those mega-parishes could provide more opportunities for a vibrant community life like increased ministries or would a lot of Catholics end up struggle due to being used to the more smaller (and close-knit?) parish model?


In some rural areas with changing populations, due to the lack of priests, we have a couple of 3-parish consortiums in my diocese.

The suburban parishes are thriving- building larger churches, schools, parish halls, etc


Nowadays, people have cars and mobility that they didn’t have a hundred years ago.

Traveling to an adjacent community isn’t a big deal.

I used to live in a Pittsburgh neighborhood where I could hear the church bells from my house from at least 4 different churches. That’s really not so necessary today. People don’t do their grocery, meat and produce shopping in small stores just a few blocks from home, they don’t have to go to church that close either. Walmart and giant supermarkets have similarly replaced Mom and/or Pop.


Both parishes are in the same city. One of them primarily served the college, while the other one served the community at large. My understanding is that the college parish will still have masses for students, though I may be wrong. I don’t live there anymore, but I get to go to the new church when I visit family.

Ultimately, as sad as I am to see the old church close, I do think this will be a good thing for the community. The new facility is better, the building is beautiful (the old one was to, but the new one definitely seems more “high Church.” It’s gorgeous. the college church is… not… it always felt like a kitchen to me because of their material choices XD), there’s a lot more space, and a great area for youth groups. The gathering hall is also larger. Overall, I see it as a positive move, even if I miss my old Church building.

As for the future, honestly I expect to see "smaller “mega parishes.” we’ll have fewer priests, so we’ll have to congregate larger areas to support a single parish.


Perhaps a time to build a Newman Center? To bad the Church isn’t as rich as people think it is.


Yes, in my diocese as well. I grew up in the rural areas, and they are rearranging the consolidation of the parishes. There’s already only one weekend Mass at my parents’ parish (where I grew up) now. Lots of young people moving out of the rural areas to the city are a big factor in this.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, my husband and I live near a huge suburban parish that is packed at every single Mass we have ever attended there (Saturday and Sunday Masses), and apparently there is a waitlist for students to get into kindergarten at the parish school. The growth of that area, with younger families moving in, has caused the diocese to consider building a new parish in the area (I believe they already have the land, they just haven’t moved forward with any plans).


I live in a suburban area. My parish is the result of a merger that happened about fifteen years ago. Between them, the two original parishes had two churches and a chapel. All are still in use. The reason for the merger is that there aren’t enough priests to keep the two parishes separate, each with its own pastor. So now there is one pastor who is responsible for what used to be two parishes.

I wasn’t here before the merger so I can’t say whether or not giving/stewardship has increased. The only thing I’ve noticed is an “us and them” attitude, particularly among the older parishioners. Some people who belonged to Parish A before the merger never darken the door of Parish B’s church and vice-versa, most often, they say, because they don’t feel welcome there. It’s a shame, really. You’d think that in fifteen years those who opposed the merger would have gotten over it, especially since no one had to lose a church in the process. But when, for example, the Easter Vigil is held at Ex-parish A’s church (it alternates between the two churches), the parishioners who consider Ex-parish B’s church to be their church either attend the Vigil outside the parish or don’t go at all…and they complain that they’ve been abandoned. :roll_eyes: :violin:

Fortunately, the majority of parishioners don’t feel this way and the number of those who do is declining as the old guard dies off. For the most part, all the rest of us are one big happy family :grinning:


Well there’s folks who depend on public transit, or would that be a non-issue since Downtown Cathedrals are usually conveniently near a bus or transit line?


The cathedral should be centrally located for the diocese.

But that’s not the issue here.

When I was a kid back in the 1960’s, our family lived on the very edge of the parish in a (at that time) new subdivision. About a mile and a half from the church and school. The school owned a bus that brought the kids on my street that attended there to and from school every day. On Sunday, the same bus was used to transport worshippers who didn’t want to or were unable to drive.

The idea of a bus ministry isn’t a new one, and certainly not limited to Catholics either.

But most people drive or get their own rides


That is actually a great idea. Even a 9 passenger van would be helpful. Hmmm. wheels in brain turning…


Some dioceses have already moved in this direction. In places in the south and southwest where there is more growth in the Catholic population, but not the decades-old infrastructure that is present in many places in the northeast and Midwest, some bishops have chosen to open fewer, larger parishes with an eye to the future in consideration of the number of priests.

Honestly, there are pros and cons to having fewer, larger parishes. Pooling resources can be helpful. But then you have to work that much harder to foster that sense of community that would come more naturally to a parish that is small and everyone knows each other.


Unfortunately, here in the northeast, this is a regular occurrence. The reasons include declining Mass attendance, insufficient contributions to maintain church buildings, and old buildings that are not viable to repair. It would be great to say that it was because the churches were too small but it is not the case.
This is always a painful promise as many parishioners cling to the buildings they worked so hard to build and invested much spiritual capital in. I cannot even estimate the number of those who have left the church due to the bitterness of the feelings involved. I do not wish it on anyone.

In addition, there is a huge priest shortage and a big age gap between generations in the priesthood. We will be losing them faster than we can replace them. We are already seeing a spike in Deacons as Parish Administrators because there are not enough priests to provide pastors. It is a sad situation indeed.


One recently-closed parish here made the local paper some years ago when they invited some militant pacifist nuns to come and speak to the children about ‘the arms race that Reagan started’. The school actually had a “Peace Pole” installed out front with the children singing. A few years later, the school became a public charter academy and the peace pole was removed. A few years ago, the parish closed. The relics were removed. The church was gutted–all stained glass removed. A structure that no longer has a soul, it would seem.

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