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Pittsburgh diocese’s new parish groupings, clergy assignments begin today

October 27, 2018 GMT

The first round of changes in a process that will eventually result in the consolidation of parishes in the six-county Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh begin today.

The new parish groupings, clergy assignments and interim Mass schedule change announced in May are designed to address declining church attendance and financial struggles parishes are facing.

The proposed consolidation is the result of a five-year planning initiative called “On Mission for the Church Alive!,” which included input from more than 27,000 parishioners at 329 parish consultation meetings last fall.

The plan calls for the diocese’s 188 parishes to be placed in 57 groupings that will become new parishes between 2020 and 2023. Priests and deacons have been assigned to serve in parishes, as well as major hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, high schools and correctional institutions.

Each parish grouping is assigned a timeline for merging and a maximum number of Masses to be celebrated on weekends.

The proposed changes aim to bolster the vibrancy, effectiveness and financial strength of each parish by grouping clusters of existing parishes -- many of which are struggling to make ends meet -- into a single church community.

Bishop David Zubik has said too much of the money donated to the church is used to maintain buildings and pay for redundant staff positions in parishes instead of ministry.

The bishop said while the mergers will involve closing church buildings, the decisions about which ones will be shuttered. That, he said, will come from a list of recommendations for the total number of buildings and priests each grouping should share.

The proposed changes are aimed at bolstering the vibrancy, effectiveness and financial strength of each parish by grouping clusters of existing parishes -- many of which are struggling to make ends meet -- into a single church community, the bishop said.

The diocese has published lists of parish groupings and clergy assignments on its website.