Saturday, April 15, 2017

Catholics Will Know More About Church Realignment by March 2018

It is to the remebrance ofall Roman Catholics that, By this time next year, the Roman Catholic population in the Pittsburgh diocese will know how a future realignment of the diocese will affect their parishes.

Catholics Will Know More About Church Realignment by March 2018

The Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese has released more information about how the On Mission for the Church Alive! process, which started last year to offer a blueprint for how the diocese will proceed.

The church is dealing with an aging, declining number of priests, coupled with a declining Catholic population in the diocese, which serves more than 630,000 people in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties.

In 1960, more than 900,000 Catholics worshiped at more than 300 parishes in the diocese, and they were served by about 600 priests. Four decades later, in 2000, there were about 750,000 Catholics at 218 parishes served by 338 priests.

The numbers have continued to decline, partially reflected by the overall loss of population in the region. In 2015, there were 632,138 Catholics in the diocese who worshiped at 192 parishes served by 225 priests.

Those statistics have spurred Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik to action, and On Mission for the Church Alive! was launched last year to deal with and ultimately reverse that trend.

Zubik has invited his flock to provide input into how the church can be configured moving forward through a series of meetings that have been held for a year.

In March 2018, Zubik will announce priest and deacon assignments in the new alignment, and parishes will be grouped into three categories.

The first will be parishes that need to be combined immediately -- within a year -- due to serious financial or demographic issues.

The second -- the one expected to have the largest number of parishes -- will be the group where parishes will be combined in one to three years.

The third group of mainly larger parishes will be those that will be merged in three to five years.

When the pastoral assignments are made next year, the pastors will be given blueprints for their new parishes, the diocese said in a statement.

It will set parameters that will allow the pastor to evaluate the needs of the news parish and customize plans to the local situation.

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