(UNDATED) - Some Daviess County Catholic parishes are set to merge as part of a three year plan announced Friday.
Bishop Charles Thompson announced changes for 24 new parishes in the Diocese-- which includes a total of ten mergers. The mergers will take effect between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2016.
None of the 24 churches involved in the parish mergers are closing as a result of these moves, which represent the first phase of the Strategic Plan to assure the long-term spiritual health of the diocese's 12-county Catholic community.
"More than five years ago, Bishop Emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger initiated the Strategic Plan," Bishop Thompson said. "We announce the initial results of ongoing efforts that will focus on keeping the Diocese of Evansville a lively, faith-filled community."
The following are the 10 new parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Evansville created by the Decrees published Sept. 27, 2013.
St. Peter Parish in Montgomery, created by the merger of All Saints Parish in Cannelburg and the existing St. Peter in Montgomery. Effective July 1, 2014.
St. Martin I Parish in Chrisney, created by the merger of St. John Chrysostom Parish in New Boston and the existing St. Martin I in Chrisney. Effective July 1, 2014.
St. Francis Xavier Parish in Poseyville, created by the merger of Holy Angels Parish in New Harmony and the existing St. Francis in Poseyville. Effective July 1, 2014 (St. Wendel Parish in St. Wendel has been linked for several years with the existing St. Francis Xavier Parish. That link will continue with the newly created St. Francis Xavier Parish, effective July 1, 2014).
Christ the King Parish in Evansville, created by the merger of Holy Spirit Parish in Evansville and the existing Christ the King. Effective July 1, 2014.
Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Evansville, created by the merger of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Evansville and the existing Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Effective July 1, 2016 (link to occur Jan. 1, 2015).
St. Boniface Parish in Evansville, created by the merger of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr Parish in Evansville; Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Evansville; and the existing St. Boniface. Effective July 1, 2014.
St. Mary Parish in Evansville, created by the merger of St. John the Apostle Parish in Evansville and the existing St. Mary. Effective July 1, 2014.
St. Clement Parish in Boonville, created by the merger of St. Rupert Parish in Red Brush and the existing St. Clement. Effective July 1, 2014.
St. John the Evangelist Parish in Loogootee, created by the merger of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Whitfield; Immaculate Conception Parish in Shoals; St. Joseph Parish in Bramble; and the existing St. John the Evangelist. Effective July 1, 2014.
St. Joseph Parish in Dale, created by the merger of Mary, Help of Christians Parish in Mariah Hill; St. Nicholas Parish in Santa Claus; and the existing St. Joseph. Effective July 1, 2015 (link to occur July 1, 2014).
Q&A about the Diocesan Strategic Plan
When do the mergers become effective?
No merger will become effective before July 1, 2014. This phase of the Strategic Plan calls for implementation of changes over a maximum 3-year period.
What went wrong to force these mergers?
Nothing went wrong. The entire process is a testament to the lasting faith of our people. The Diocese of Evansville developed the Strategic Plan to reinvigorate our 12-county community, and Catholics from across the diocese are contributing to the ongoing work.
Isn't this entire Strategic Plan a reaction to a shortage of priests?
Actually, the decline represents a return to priestly levels that are historically stable. In the decade immediately following WWII, the U.S. saw the largest rise in priestly vocations in the nation's history. The average number of priests serving parishes in 1960 was almost twice the 1950 number. Today, however, the number of priests available to serve parishes is virtually identical to 1950 (i.e. an average of 1.01 in 1950 to 0.97 today) according to data from Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
What's happening to the churches in merged parishes?
All churches in the Diocese of Evansville remain open. The Strategic Plan does not include decisions to close any church across our 12 counties.
What happens to the Catholic cemeteries?
Merged parishes will be responsible for perpetual maintenance of any cemeteries that were previously part of parishes that merged. No cemetery will be abandoned or otherwise neglected as a result of any changes announced in this or any phase of the Strategic Plan.
What happens to the Catholic schools?
Schools become part of the newly merged parishes. The pastors and schools' staffs will determine plans for the educational component of their overall parish ministries moving forward.
When will Masses be, and where?
Every pastor will determine the Mass schedule for each parish, in accordance with Canon Law, no later than July 1, 2014.
What happens to the finances and ministries of the merged parishes?
On the effective date of each merger, the assets and liabilities for each merged parish become part of the newly created (by the merger) parish. From that point forward, the collections taken at services in each worship site within the new parish go into the general fund of the merged parish.
What about all the other parishes in the diocese?
As Bishop Thompson and others have noted throughout the strategic-planning process, the changes announced Sept. 27, 2013, represent the first phase of ongoing work.
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