WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Some Catholic churches in Westchester and the rest of the state may be consolidating or closing and the Archdiocese of New York is expected to announce their final decision this month.
There are 368 parishes in New York, all of which have been the subject of an in-depth review by a 40-person advisory group to determine what changes need to be made.
Factors being considered include the effectiveness of each parishes programs and mass attendance, combined with population shifts, changing demographics, financial stability and upkeep of existing facilities.
"Change is hard, and it can be especially difficult to let go of buildings and places we’ve become attached to, but the Church must be about people," Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement on the Archdiocese of New York website.
Dolan, who is reviewing the advisory group's final recommendations, added that failure to act would only weaken the church and that almost every diocese in the U.S. has, or will have to go through this same process. Several Archdiocese of New York school buildings were recently closed after a similar process.
In 2007, 10 parishes closed and another 11 either consolidated to form new parishes.
In the current process, labeled the "Making All Things New" initiative, the outcomes for individual churches could include:
Collaboration, where parishes share in ministries, pastoral programs and community outreach Consolidation, where several parishes form one new parish community
Closings, where parishioners will be invited to join surrounding parishes, with the financial assets being distributed equally among those surrounding parishes. At the same time, some existing, and possibly some new parishes will be expanded in under-served areas of the Archdiocese.
“Making All Things New is our attempt, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to carefully study our parishes, asking how they can be faithful to their sacred task of teaching, serving and sanctifying, according to the mind and heart of Christ,” Dolan said.
The 40-person advisory group includes 20 priests, including several from Westchester:
- Monsignor Thomas E. Gilleece, Church of St. John & St. Mary of Chappaqua
- Monsignor Thomas Kelly, St. Augustine's in Larchmont
- Reverend Christopher Maloney, St. John The Baptist Parish in Yonkers
The remaining 20 advisory group members are deacons, religious or lay. They include four from Westchester:
- William Plunkett
- John Feerick
- Dennis Deutmeyer
- Lucy Brusco
"Despite what some people may think, this process is not just about ‘the bottom line,’ and the Archdiocese of New York will – we must – continue to be with our people and provide for their religious, spiritual, and sacramental needs,” Dolan said.