Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Catholic Church Consolidation


(CNN) -- Along the Rust Belt and in cities dotting the Northeast and Upper Midwest, Catholic communities are mourning the loss of parishes. It's a five-year trend of sweeping church closures that most recently hit Cleveland, Ohio.

Wally Martens, a Cleveland native, can look out his kitchen window and see the spiritual home that has served his family for five generations. St. Ignatius of Antioch has been with him and his loved ones through life and death.

"It's the place where most of us were baptized, most of us got married, most of us graduated from grade school and some of us were buried," Martens, 68, said of the west side urban parish that serves 1,200 households. To find out that the building is set to be shuttered is "like losing somebody in your family."

Earlier this month, Bishop Richard G. Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland, which serves more than 750,000 Catholics, announced that 29 parishes will close and 41 others will merge. The reconfiguration plan, which will effectively cut 52 parishes in the current tally of 224, is scheduled to go into effect by June 30, 2010.

(full article)