Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Duluth Priests React to Twin Cities' Church Closings

This weekend's announcement that 21 Twin Cities area churches will close has some people wondering if the Duluth Diocese will make any changes. They told us a reorganization plan is in the works.

The diocese said they have no immediate plans to make major changes like closures but that reorganization is imminent. Local priests suspect only small things like mass times will change in the future.

"The church is not ultimately about building its about relationships," said Father Peter Laird, Archdiocese Vicar General, when he announced the closures this weekend.

The archdiocese said shrinking attendance and a shortage of priests is to blame for the closings in the Twin Cities. But Duluth preists said that's not the case here.

"There's absolutely no talk of closing I don't think that's going to happen if anything they'll probably build a church somewhere," said Father Terry Figel of Holy Family Church.

Currently there are ten priests serving in Duluth's 14 catholic churches. In the next two years, eight are on their way. In fact Duluth has the 9th highest priest per capita ratio in the nation.

"None of the priests I've talked to want to leave Duluth," said Father Figel.

There's only one church in Duluth closing its doors in the near future by St. Peter's said it's for very different reasons than the closings in the Twin Cities.

"The building itself with many of its problems are catastrophic," said Father John Patrich. "The water goes in one place and its pops out the walls somewhere else."

St. Peters was built back in the 1920's and due to rain damage its falling apart. Father Patrich said even with a devoted parish, the church will be forced to suspend operations at the end of the month.

"We really didn't want to close anything but this is the direction the leadership of St. Peter's has seen themselves going in the last ten years," said Father Patrich.

Not every church closure is like St. Peter's and if Duluth parishes shrink, Patrich said he's prepared help his catholic community survive.

"You can't get everywhere and that's why you bring things together and you cluster them and sometimes things close," said Patrich.

There's no timeline for these changes but the Diocese of Duluth said they plan to let their parishioners know directly if and when they decide. WDIO-TV

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