"32 percent of weekend Masses in the archdiocese are less than one-third full."
The archdiocese’s plan [in progress for over a year and due to be released in two weeks] is a strategic plan, not a downsizing plan like some other U.S. dioceses have implemented.
The difference is important, said Jim Lundholm-Eades, strategic planning task force member and archdiocesan Parish Services Team’s director.
“The number of Catholics in the archdiocese is growing,” said Rita Beatty, planning process communications manager.
“The challenge that we’re facing is that many church and school buildings are concentrated in areas where the general population is not growing substantially,” she added.
Despite the growth, overcapacity is a problem throughout the archdiocese. In Catholic schools in the archdiocese, there are 20 percent more seats overall than there are students. And 32 percent of weekend Masses are less than one-third full.
This strategic plan should also allow priests to focus more on being pastors, Lundholm-Eades said.
“At the moment, many of our priests spend a lot of time attending to the temporal management of our churches, and they have to put in that time because of the fragile . . . financial nature of the parishes,” he said.
“By building strong, sustainable parish communities, it frees pastors to visit the sick, comfort the dying, teach the people.” The Catholic Spirit