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Pittsburgh Diocesan Plan makes 57 communities of 188



Updated 19 minutes ago

About 80 percent of the 200 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh will be assigned to different churches starting in October. This is part of the largest reorganization of six county dioceses in nearly three decades.

Bishop David Zubik announced on Saturday the redistribution of the clergy of the diocese when he announced the next phase of a plan to merge 188 individual parishes into 57 final multi-church groupings, a change from the 48 groupings proposed last year.

Each group will have between two and five years to submit their plan of merger to the bishop, some of which will eventually include church closures.

No church closures have yet been determined, and Zubik did not estimate how many of the approximately 225 church buildings in the six county diocese must be closed. More than half of the communities have lost money for years.

The bishop acknowledged that the priestly remittances "will cause some pains" and invited them to open to new priests.

"Maybe they have some priests who really appreciate them," Zubik said. "Every time you have such a break from a relationship that has built them up, there will be some sense of loss there, but there will also be a gain in the parishes they receive."

Sub According to the newly announced plan, each priest has been given a new assignment as part of the 57 parish groups, with most in groupings not being their current parish, Zubik said.

Pastor Ken Kezmarsky told congregational members at St. Alphonsus Springdale that he would be reassigned in October. He was in the church of Springdale for about seven years.

Helen Prasnikar, who has been in the parish for over 60 years, has recognized the change, but she would like to know sooner.

"I just want to know where the new church will be, I hope it's close and I get there," she said.

The Rev. Larry Adams passed the news to the parishioners in St. Ursula, Pittsburgh's North Hills, during the Saturday night Mass.

"There are no changes to the parish and the church," he assured parishioners. "We will not close, we will start the process for a year or more."

In six months, Adams of St. Ursula, which supplies the suburbs of Hampton and Shaler, becomes a new parish, the parishes in Braddock, Rankin includes, relocate, Forrest Hills and Swissvale.

"Every task the bishop gave me has led me to love the place and love the people," Adams said.

Bob Koch, 75, of Shaler complained that Adams is leaving, but he is not too worried about the rest of the transition. He was glad that St. Ursula was grouped in the last groupings only with St. Mary of the Assumption and not with five other parishes.

"I just hate losing him," Koch said, pointing to Father Larry. "I think he did a good job here."

Nobody was surprised by the Holy Family in East Deer.

There, Pastor Thomas Gillespie, who is also assigned to the parish of "Holy Martyrs" in Tarentum, becomes im

"We expected that," said community member Joe Novaset.

Most communities will complete the merger process within three years, Zubik said.

The most hijacked must do so within from two years to the end of 2020, while some groups will have until 2023.

"I truly believe that change can bring new life and joy," Zubik said Saturday during a press conference at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton. I realize that such a transformation is seldom easy, especially in the heart matters of faith and community life. I know that this change will force us ̵

1; the faithful, the clergy and myself – to let go of some things that are valuable and familiar. I am also convinced that our ministers and believers have what it takes to form deep and lasting relationships within their groupings and create welcoming communities. "

The proposed changes aim to strengthen the vibrancy, effectiveness and financial strength of each community by grouping clusters of existing communities – many of which are struggling to make ends meet – into a single community is assigned to each group to guide the planning.

Guidelines used in the development of the models: Parishes would contain between 7,000 and 60,000 members, some with multiple churches, for no less than 1,000 people in the Sunday Mass, preferably between 2,000 and 4,000, and do not exceed a priest for every 2,400 persons, except for special needs, such as language skills.

The diocese took geography very seriously and avoided grouping parishes under either extreme financial burden or high wealth

Since the year 2000, the number of church services has increased by more than Decreased 40 percent and participation in sacramental events has fallen by 50 percent, says the diocese. The diocese serves approximately 630,000 Catholics in the counties of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington.

The diocese estimates that its approximately 200 priests will shrink to 112 by 2025.

The priests learned of their new duties on Thursday afternoon. They read the letters that the bishop gave them to parishioners during the evening Mass on Saturday, and planned to visit them again on Sunday.

New mass plans will be announced in August and come into force with the clerical reassignments on October 15.

The five-year planning initiative "On the Mission for the Church alive!" Has included contributions from more than 30,000 parishioners at 329 parish consultations.

"I know that even in the last few weeks some of these things were still being prayed and considered," Adams said. "I want to make sure everyone knows what the game plan is, so there are no surprises, and I hope that the community stays in tact and does not lose hope, because there is much hope in this parish."

The Reverend Aaron Kress said he and Rev. John Lendvai would stay in Harrison at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, but as the process continues, there will also be some changes in mass schedules.

Kress called for "all the people of God throughout the diocese to do everything they can" to move forward.

Natasha Lindstrom is an author of the Tribune Review. Reach them at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha . Employee Chuck Biedka contributed to this report.


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