Archdiocese planning another ‘realignment’ of parishes

Back in 2005 and 2006, I wrote a lot about the Archdiocese of NY’s plan to “realign” parishes.

I thought it was an important story. The church was looking at all sorts of demographic data — including the worsening shortage of priests — and might make some tough decisions about how to better allocate resources.

I wrote about a giant, 50-person committee overseeing the planning, about lay involvement in the planning process, whatever I could think of.

But when Cardinal Egan finally dropped the big plan in March 2006, it was a bit of a let-down. Only 15 parishes were targeted to close — and most of them were barely breathing.

People I spoke with were surprised that regions of the archdiocese were not touched, even though several churches appeared to be stagnant or worse.

There was a sense among some that the archdiocese deferred the hard choices until…a later date.

That date may have arrived (not today, but soon. Maybe.).

Archbishop Dolan has initiated a new planning process he’s calling “Making All Things New.” Yes, he’s presenting it as an opportunity to prune the archdiocese and make it stronger.

The planning process is well underway. Even though I’m no longer the religion guy here, I write about for tomorrow’s JN/LoHud.

Interestingly, the archdiocese has begun passing out surveys at weekend Masses, trying to get a sense of what people know and think about the pretty serious challenging facing their church in New York.

The first question/statement reads like this: “I am aware of the current situation facing the Archdiocese, particularly with such issues as the decline in Church attendance, shortage of priests, decreased financial stability, etc. For me this is a serious issue.”

The choices for the respondent are strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree.

Who would strongly disagree that these things are serious issues?

Many of the question/statements ask point-blank about the possible closing or merger of parishes.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.