Canadian diocese loses 30 percent of parishes in two years

.- Parish reorganizations in Quebec’s third-largest diocese will see its number of parishes drop by almost 30 percent since 2002.

Bishop Jacques Berthelet of the Diocese of St-Jean-Longueuil, located just south of Montreal, announced that 14 parishes would be merged into three by the end of the summer.

The bishop said the closures were necessary because of a drop in church attendance and a shortage of priests. The number of priests in the diocese is 150, down from 250 just 20 years ago.

The decision to close parishes was made after a long period of study and consultation, the bishop said. Committees were set up to consult with and inform parishioners. The committees held about 14 meetings, which registered a total attendance of about 1,000 people.

Bishop Berthelet said he hopes the new reorganization will make resource-sharing and evangelization efforts more effective, and revitalize Christian communities

This is the diocese’s second major reorganization in a year. Massive reorganizations last year included one merger that combined 10 parishes into one.

Two years ago, the diocese had 91 parishes. By the end of this year, the number of parishes will drop to 61, nearly 30 percent less.

A decision has not yet been made about the future of all of these empty church buildings, though some will remain as worship and prayer centers.

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