By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Archdiocese recently announced that it will close seven more Catholic churches in response to a reported shortage of both priests and congregants. Parishoners are not pleased.

The New York Archdiocese recently announced that it will close seven more churches in response to a reported shortage of both priests and congregants.  These seven, added to the 30 churches announced in November, drops the number of parishes in the archdiocese from 368 to 296, the New York Times reports.

The recent announcement affects churches in the Bronx, the Upper East Side, and Dutchess County.

Joseph Zwilling, spokesperson for the archdiocese, says that the existing parish alignment and structure was established in the 19th and 20th centuries and now demographics have shifted as well as a population shift from “urban centers into the suburbs.”.

Some parishioners understood the need to close buildings and realign parishes because it costs money to keep all the church facilities open and running.

But others are less understanding.  Lutzea Satin, long-time parishioner of St. John the Martyr, said her “heart is bleeding” and went on to say, “Right now, my faith is questionable…It’s like losing a member of your family”.

One thing that has parishioners at the affected churches upset is that they didn’t know they had the chance to appeal until it was too late in the processThe Archdiocese didn’t make the necessary paperwork available until February, when it posted it on the website.  The delay was reported as an “oversight” by the Archdiocese.

Many parishes have still petitioned the Vatican for reconsideration.  For example, the Church of St. Ursula contends that the decisions for closing their parish were “finances and profitability” despite the fact that they have attendance of over 300 each week, a number that is growing. 

Despite several appeals, the Archdiocese planned to go forward with the mergers at the August 1st deadline. Zwilling was confident that the Holy See would support the restructuring plan.

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