June 21, 2013

Be Our Guest / Mary Jo Duvall

Parish closings, mergers are incredibly sad for affected families, writer says

What a disappointment to read about the church closings in southeast Indiana.

Though supposedly not a “top-down” decision, I doubt very much that the members of these parishes would have chosen this option for their home churches.

Having family in Cedar Grove, I have attended Masses at that beautiful church off and on many times since I was very young. I’ve attended family weddings and funerals at Guardian Angels Church. It is the parish home and the center of the small town of Cedar Grove.

And I am sure I can say the same about the other churches that are closing in these small towns.

Is there a belief that smaller parishes are no longer viable and able to carry out the Church’s mission? A parish is more than a group of people attending Mass. It is a family helping each other in times of joy and sorrow. Consolidated parishes will bring to an end the traditions and sense of community.

Have these parishes been given a choice? Have they been given an opportunity to raise the money needed to keep their parishes open?

I can only imagine how much money will be required to build the new churches, and how much people will be asked to pledge for these new buildings. I understand that there are changing demographics, fewer priests and other issues the archdiocese has to consider.

However, more and more I see the archdiocese putting their resources into the large parishes and schools and ignoring the smaller parishes. Are the needs of those parishioners less important than the needs of those attending large parishes?

It appears to me that this is clearly a business decision, not one based on what is best for the people. Decisions are made from the top down.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin states the goal of the process was to help parishes “discern where God is leading the Church in central and southern Indiana, and to discuss how the Archdiocese of Indianapolis should change its structures in order to carry out its mission today and in the future.” What goals and missions are being fulfilled by the closing of these parishes?

There are a number of parishes in our archdiocese that are as small—or smaller—than the parishes being closed. What does the future hold for those parishes? Are there steps these parishes can be taking now to avoid a fate similar to that which has befallen the southeastern parishes?

The entire situation is incredibly sad and my heart goes out to the families affected by this decision.

(Mary Jo Duvall is a member of American Martyrs Parish in Scottsburg.)

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