As the population continues to dwindle, the Diocese of Fargo plans to close five small rural parishes in the coming months. The closures were announced after a yearlong demographic study.
A report by The Associated Press stated that Bishop Samuel Aquila had announced more than a year ago that parishes with 30 or fewer families within 25 miles of a larger parish would be considered for consolidation.
The five parishes being closed are St. Anthony in Bathgate, St. Joseph in Osnabrock, St. Clotilde in Milton, Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Williams, and Sacred Heart in Fried.
Fr. Joseph Goering, chancellor of the diocese, told the AP that more parishes likely will be closed.
The bishop plans to discuss with each parish the future of its church building. If no good use is found, the churches will be torn down, Fr. Goering reportedly said.
According to the AP, St. Anthony's parish has already arranged to have its 1882 wooden church moved to Icelandic State Park.
Meanwhile, Catholic parishes in urban centers in the diocese are growing; a new parish was even opened two years ago in south Fargo.
The number of Catholics registered in the diocese in 2003 was 84,190, a drop from 102,814 in 1990. After the closures, there will be 153 parishes, served by 107 priests.