New York and Detroit Face Parish Closings

Fewer Priests and Shifting Populations Cited

NEW YORK, MARCH 29, 2006 ( Two major U.S. archdioceses have announced plans or recommendations to close dozens of parishes, a response to declining numbers of priests and shifts in demographics.

The New York Archdiocese said Tuesday that it is bracing for a major reorganization, recommending the closing of 31 parishes and 14 schools.

At the same time, it is considering establishing five new parishes in suburban areas and building several new church buildings, mostly in regions north of the city, where Catholics have moved over the years.

The closings would hit hardest in the southern part of the archdiocese, including Manhattan, said the New York Times.

Final decisions concerning the schools will be made by April 24. There is no schedule for final decisions on the parishes.

In Michigan, the Detroit Archdiocese today announced plans to close or merge 16 parishes, most of them in or near the city, under a five-year reorganization plan.

Other small congregations in the city and elsewhere will share pastors under the reorganization plan.

Cardinal Adam Maida said the decisions were part of a strategic planning process. The changes will reduce the number of parishes from the current 306 to 290, the Associated Press said.

Hard hit will be the inner ring of older suburbs, once home to large baby-boomer families now grown and moved elsewhere, reported the Detroit Free Press newspaper.

Boston’s bounce

Meanwhile, the Boston Archdiocese announced that the number of people attending Mass has risen slightly since widespread church closings began, despite dozens fewer parishes and a falling Catholic population.

Last year, 319,559 Catholics attended Mass regularly, up from 316,811 in 2003, the year before the closings began, according to statistics provided by the archdiocese and reported by the Associated Press.

The 2005 statistics show that just 17% of Catholics in the archdiocese regularly attend Mass.

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