The Archdiocese of Seattle has announced its official list of 170 parishes and worship sites it will be combining into 60 “parish families” as part of its major diocesan renewal plan.

Archdiocesan Vicar General Father Gary Lazzeroni said last year that the archdiocese was facing an “urgent need for change in how we are approaching parish life.” The archdiocese will have only “around 60 pastors in the next 15 years,” while “many parishes are operating with a deficit,” he said at the time. 

Archbishop Paul Etienne on Friday promulgated the final list of what the archdiocese calls “parish families,” according to a press release. The finalized rundown came “after significant prayer and discernment,” the announcement said. 

A “parish family” is “two or more parishes under the leadership of one pastor,” the archdiocese said. Over time, an individual parish family “will determine how it will share resources such as staff, ministries, and outreach and grow into one canonical parish,” a process the archdiocese said will occur “over a period of about three years.”

The parish family initiative is part of the archdiocese’s extended Partners in the Gospel renewal initiative. 

Northwest Catholic, the news outlet of the archdiocese, said in a report on Saturday that the merger will see 170 “parishes, missions, and stations” grouped into 60 parish families. Pastoral leadership for the families will be announced in April, while the mergers themselves will take effect in July. 

In a letter announcing the mergers, Etienne said he was “grateful to the thousands of people who engaged in the consultation process by providing insights during the input phase, sharing new ideas, and praying for this renewal effort.” 

“My hope is that parish families will benefit from the shared gifts of people, time, finances, talents, and more so that we, as partners in the Gospel, can truly renew parish life,” the archbishop said. 

“We need every member of the Church to share their God-given gifts to build up the body of Christ,” Etienne added. 

More in US

The archdiocese said that the family arrangements “were developed based on parishes’ size, geography, cultural and ethnic makeup, financial health, school presence, and other considerations.” 

“Some parishes stand alone because they are run by a religious order or serve a specific cultural community,” the announcement said. 

A number of Catholic dioceses have merged parishes in recent years to consolidate pastoral resources and help manage priest shortages. 

The Diocese of Joliet in Illinois last month announced the merger of numerous parishes and schools, with Bishop Ronald Hicks calling the restructuring “deliberate, proactive, and anticipatory of the future.”

Other dioceses including the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Archdiocese of St. Louis have also announced mergers and closures of their own in recent months.