Monday, May 19, 2008

Camden Diocese Consolidation - Another thought

I have read quite a few of the letters regarding the parish consolidation in the Camden Diocese. This same effort of consolidation is occurring across the country, Massachusetts to New Orleans. The usual reasons priests, parishioners and payouts due to lawsuits. Though this time, in our diocese, it is because the current make up of our parishioners is changing.

I know many of my fellow parishioners are very depressed and feel a sense of loss, that their parish will no longer be open. Some of these same parishioners Of course there are many who have said how beneficent Bishop Galante has been to allow a democratic process to proceed under his auspices.

What I find amazing, is that my fellow parishioners are not looking ahead, what will be the process after the parishes are closed. Let’s be real, parishes were going to be closed to make it more manageable for the Bishop. Removing all these parishes means priests, which we do have a shortage of, will now be requested to resign from their present churches. Under the new re-organization, the new pastor or the current pastor would decide, along with the consent of the Bishop, if the displaced priests would be hired or perhaps retire.

Paid professionals would be hired by each parish, and again how many paid professionals are we talking about? In turn, these paid professionals would be supervised by the new parish council and, of course, the Bishop. Note, I am sure the closed parishes real estate would be sold, and the promise would be the professionals would be paid by the sale of the real estate or some financial device funded by the sold real estate. The parish council would be forced to do this, because of the mandate by Bishop Galante.

The other matter would be if the new parishes would be able to handle the new congregations? Could they handle the number of people now going to these new parishes? On one hand, the argument would be simply yes, since there is such a low attendance to start, the newly formed parishes would now be filled.

Perhaps my projections are a bit bleak perhaps even unfair to Bishop Galante, however, I have gone through enough mergers and consolidations to know one thing is true. Reductions in manpower and assets are made for tighter control. The question is, do you as a parishioner think you will be part of the new view of how your parish is to operate?