Parish Consolidations: What Gets Me Every Time

A fairly standard, boilerplate-type article from the Religious News Service via Crux reporting on a plan for consolidation of parishes in the Archdiocese of New York. The reorganization will result in 112 parishes experiencing mergers.

Here’s the typical line that gets me every time:

“Some parishioners have vowed to try to keep their churches open through petitions and protests.”

Sigh. Okay, fine–petitions and protests. But what about the important stuff? You know the reason the Church exists? Why not parishioners vowing to try and keep their churches open through:

  • evangelization, street witnessing/preaching
  • outreach to the local community
  • evangelistic (aka other-than-Mass) worship and prayer opportunities
  • sharing the Gospel with new audiences
  • forming disciples within the parish in spiritual giving (since finances play a huge role in the need for consolidation)
  • specifically raising up one young man for the priesthood from within the parish itself (rather than vague prayers for vocations)…because you know, simple math–if every parish raised up a new priest every decade, a “priest shortage” would be no reason to consolidate, though I recognize this may be too late for these parishes

The other thought that always comes to mind when I read these oh-so-typical news articles on parish consolidations is that Catholics in the U.S. seem to have an inherently negative attitude towards consolidation, whereas the multisite church movement is booming among our Christian brothers and sisters. I suppose it’s simply because for Catholic parishes consolidation comes from the diocese (usually), while in a non-Catholic congregation the decision to go multisite usually comes from within and is due to the desire to grow or do outreach in a new way–but still–we could really use an attitude adjustment on this issue.

I’m just saying, I’m looking forward to the day I read a news report describing a bunch of parishioners who are vowing increased evangelization or discipleship as a response to consolidation.

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