Friday, September 19, 2008
Across the United States, Catholic dioceses are formulating pastoral plans which often include closing, clustering parishes and merging parishes. The people of the Archdiocese of Boston are no strangers to this painful period in church history.
In the Lansing Diocese in Michigan, Bishop Earl Boyea said that "changes to parish life may be painful, but on the other hand, like the cross of Christ, it leads us to something new, to a resurrection."
At a news conference on Monday, Boyea announced plans that will affect every parish in his diocese, including a decision that all parishes will reduce their number of weekend Masses by at least one service.
That's an interesting move and one I've not heard that other dioceses have made. It makes a good deal of sense for a diocese to be pro-active on this question since it's only a matter of time before Mass schedules (weekend and daily) will be reduced by the impact of the dwindling number of priests available to celebrate the liturgy.
In many parishes Mass on the weekend is celebrated more often than is necessary. By that I mean that the number of Masses actually needed to seat all worshiping parishioners on a weekend is often fewer than the number of Masses now scheduled. That would be the case in my own parish. And this is not just a matter of making a pastor's schedule lighter. Scheduling more Masses than necessary often gives short shrift to priorities much higher on the liturgical scale than the convenience of worshipers.
Fewer Masses in parishes is a reality that U.S. Catholics will face soon if it is not already their experience.
What do you think?
Posted by Austin Fleming at 1:01 PM