Chicago archdiocese announces nearly two dozen parish mergers, closings

Chicago, Ill., Feb 10, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Thursday the latest round of parish mergers and closures as part of Cardinal Blase Cupich’s “Renew my Church” initiative.

The mergers mostly affect parishes in Chicago proper, as well as in the suburbs of Waukegan and Elk Grove Village.

Most of the mergers announced Feb. 6 involve the merging of two or more parishes, many of which have schools associated with them. Two of the new groupings include the merging of four current parishes into one.

The groupings are currently named 63rd Street, South Shore, West Ridge, Elk Grove Village, Southwest, East Side, Waukegan, and Ss. Genevieve and Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr. The as-yet unnamed merged parishes will be able to propose new name ideas to Cupich, according to an announcement from the archdiocese.

Feedback and Discernment Teams made up of representatives from each of the parishes and schools involved in the groupings met to review and discern the future parish, school, and church structures for their respective areas, and submitted feedback reports to the Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission, the archdiocese said.

The commission met to review the feedback reports and other materials and information, including demographic data, financial summaries, and parish and grouping trends. Cardinal Cupich, his auxiliary bishops, and the Presbyteral Council discussed the recommendations and ultimately made the decisions for the mergers.

Cupich announced the Renew my Church initiative in 2016, and at the time around 100 parish closures were expected amid a shortage of priests and church buildings in need of repair, the Tribune reports.

The mergers will take effect July 1.

The mergers will bring the number of parishes in the archdiocese below 300, from more than 350 in 2016 and almost 450 in the mid-1980s, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The archdiocese announced the closure of five elementary schools in January, citing declining enrollment.

Reporting from the Chicago Tribune suggests that the Chicago archdiocese could be facing as much as $200 million in debts from clerical abuse settlements.

“Over the next few months, the archdiocese and the pastors of the current parishes will support the communities in their transition to the new parish and school structures,” the archdiocesan announcement concluded.

“All parishes will embark on the next phase of the renewal process to become a stronger, more sustainable presence for the future, capable of reaching more people in their work of making disciples of Jesus Christ, building communities with one another and inspiring witness in the world around us.”

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