This is a good problem to have, I think.
Step into St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church a couple of Sundays each month and you won’t see just one baby getting baptized. You could see more than a half dozen being splashed with Holy Water. Baptisms come in bunches at some Omaha-area Catholic churches, just one sign of the growth in some parishes that has prompted the Omaha Archdiocese to launch a study that will examine the possibility of opening additional churches and schools.
If it’s determined that new construction is necessary, the resulting report will provide recommendations this spring on the number and locations of churches and schools needed in west Omaha, western Douglas County and Sarpy County now and in the next 20 to 30 years. Some parish boundaries could be realigned.
The study comes at a pivotal time for the archdiocese, which like others across the country has been facing demographic shifts. Some churches and schools that once served Polish, Irish and other ethnic groups have been closed as succeeding generations have moved to suburban areas.
Priests and parishioners in the Omaha Archdiocese’s growth areas say it’s smart to plan for the future, but they emphasize that decisions must be made carefully because new churches and schools can affect existing ones financially by pulling away members and students.“It’s a balancing act,’’ said the Rev. Dan Kampschneider, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul. “That’s why caution is taken.” His parish has become one of the largest in the archdiocese, with household membership more than doubling in the past two decades to reach 2,833 last year.