It’s happening in Sioux City:
The Diocese of Sioux City on Thursday released a draft plan to reduce the number of parishes in its 24-county territory from 108 to 67, starting in summer 2017.
While no church buildings would close, 40 would move to oratory status, meaning weekly Sunday Mass would no longer be performed there.
Speaking at the Central Catholic Office, the Rev. Brent Lingle, director of the office of worship, said the planning would help ensure the vibrancy of the dioceses in the wake of a declining congregation.Lingle said in the past 30 years, Sioux City itself has remained relatively untouched by previous planning changes. “(The changes) let us do the hard work now, so we know where we are going for the next 10 years,” Lingle said. “Instead of having each parish wonder if they’re going to be open next year, or if they’ll have a priest.” …Lingle attributed the moves to a growing shortage of priests and declining membership and church attendance. “It’s an exciting time for the dioceses of Sioux City,” Lingle said. “We understand change is difficult, but we believe we’ll come out as a stronger, more faithful church.” The diocese has ordained only nine priests in the last 10 years. The number of priests available for pastoral ministry is projected to fall from 58 to 35 in the next 7 to 8 years. The changes are expected to cut down the workload of priests to holding Mass three times per week, lessening their work hours from more than 80 per week to 55, Lingle said. Since 2008, only 16 of the 108 parishes have seen growth, while overall mass attendance has dropped 24.7 percent.