Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The Diocese of Rochester plans for the future with fewer and fewer priests

While it’s too early to know precise details, the reordering of resources ordered by Bishop Matthew Clark likely will lead to hard decisions on a wider scale than Catholics have known. The planning comes as the diocese struggles to deal with shifting demographics and a steadily falling number of priests.

Decisions will be made on a number of issues: whether to consolidate a number of adjacent parishes and staff, how to trim the number of daily and Sunday Masses, how to spread the wealth of money and talent from bigger suburban parishes to poorer ones, and whether to close some church facilities.

At the same time, the process will catapult an ever-increasing number of lay people -- more highly trained than ever before -- to leadership of parishes.

Along with this rise of the laity, the area’s 360,000 Catholics also will see a major shifting of priests toward a more sacramental role, and away from their traditional role of pastor-administrator and doer-of-all-things.

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