The sad trend of large-scale parish closings has reach the prairie at last.
Yesterday the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced the planned closing of twenty-one of its current 213 parishes, along with the clustering of many more per canon 526. In their official news release the Archdiocese makes prominent the claim that “90% of parishes will remain” open, and cite the dearth of clergy and a widespread debt problem at the parish level as driving forces for this reconfiguration.
The coverage of the announcement by the Minneapolis Star Tribune is surprisingly adequate, making it clear this is a dire situation without resorting to (too many) histrionics. Meanwhile, the writers at the rival St. Paul Pioneer Press seems unable to break out of gormless Pollyanna mode, and seem inexplicably to have only found parishioners who were resigned and positive about the news that their chosen place of worship was to be shuttered.
The Archdiocese has certainly not taken this step lightly: they cite a twenty-month planning process, with a consultative team of sixteen assisting Archbishop John Neinstedt. I will have to take some time reading the full strategic plan, especially as this is a development that will reach many other dioceses near and far in the years ahead.