Denver, Colo., May 10, 2021 / 14:00 pm
The Diocese of Buffalo is preparing to draft a plan for regrouping parishes, with a finalized plan due in September.
Bishop Michael Fisher told participants at a May 8 virtual meeting that the plan will include the creation of “families” of three to six parishes that work closely with each other to provide for the spiritual, sacramental and educational needs of parishioners, the Buffalo News reported.
The parish plan will then be implemented over the next three years
The Zoom meeting with Bishop Fisher was organized by the Movement to Restore Trust, a local group of lay Catholics founded in 2018 amid allegations of abuse cover-up by Bishop Richard Malone, Fisher’s predecessor.
Malone resigned as bishop of Buffalo in December 2019, and Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany served as the diocese’s interim apostolic administrator until Fisher’s installation in January 2021.
"There are going to be lay leaders that are formed to help guide parishes in this renewal,” Father Bryan Zielenieski, the diocese’s vicar of renewal and development, said at the meeting as reported by Spectrum News. He added that clergy will be assigned to minister to the parish families rather than to single parishes.
Father Zielenieski added that under the plan, individual parishes would maintain their own identities, corporate structures, trustees and parish councils, the Buffalo News reported.
In recent years, the diocese has been rocked by revelations of past clergy sex abuse and allegations of a cover-up by former Bishop Malone, former auxiliary bishop Edward Grosz, and diocesan officials.