A plan to restructure the Saginaw Diocese will reduce services at 53 area churches. Bishop Joseph Cistone laid out the plan during a press conference Sunday afternoon.
The plan covers 109 parish communities, and 29 of those churches will no longer hold regular services. The reorganization comes during the 75th anniversary for the diocese.
The plan will take the current 106 parish communities and merge them into 56. Churches will also merge and some will stop holding regular service all together.
The reorganization is necessary due to demographic shifts, declining mass attendance, fewer priests and shrinking resources. The plan received more than a year of consideration, input from teams of parishioners, a consulting firm and the bishop himself.
"In order to meet these challenges we needed to acknowledge the reality that we could no longer sustain the number of parishes within the diocese," said Cistone.
The plan could be a challenge for more rural areas. Churches in Cass City, Sebewaing, Gagetown and Wilmot will merge. Parishioners will have to attend mass in either Cass City or Sebewaing.
So that could mean a 20 or 30 minute drive for some worshippers.
Bishop Cistone made the announcement at Bay City's Saint Joseph church, where regulary scheduled masses will come to an end in July 2014.
Churches were assigned to three categories:
Parish Church: This is the main church where regularly scheduled masses and sacraments will take place for all members of the parish community.
Churches for Additional Use: Some parishes will have one or more churches where masses will be celebrated on a regular basis.
Churches for Occasional Use: Regular masses will no longer take place in these churches. The diocese may grant permission for events such as weddings or funerals for former parishioners.
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