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COLUMBUS—Speaking on Feb. 4 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus before Catholics from across central and southern Indiana, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin announced decisions that will affect 31 parishes in the Bloomington, Connersville and Seymour deaneries.
As a result of the decisions, two parishes will be merged into neighboring faith communities.
Our Lady of Providence in Brownstown will be closed, and merged with St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour. Archbishop Tobin noted in his decision that St. Ambrose Parish may choose to maintain Our Lady of Brownstown Church as a worship site, “subject to a triennial evaluation by the archdiocese.”
St. Rose of Lima Parish in Knightstown will be closed, and merged with St. Anne Parish in New Castle. As with the other merger, Archbishop Tobin has allowed St. Anne Parish to use St. Rose of Lima Church for worship “if necessary.”
In addition, the three parishes in Richmond—Holy Family, St. Andrew and St. Mary—will be combined to create a single new parish with a new name.
The churches of the three current parishes will be maintained. The decision regarding the parishes will also not affect St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School and Seton Catholic High School, both in Richmond.
All of the decisions will be effective on July 1. They were the result of a 15-month involvement of the deaneries’ pastoral leaders and representatives of its lay members in the Connected in the Spirit planning process.
Archbishop Tobin said the process is “an effort to discern where God is leading the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana, and determine how the Archdiocese of Indianapolis should change its structures in order to carry out its mission today and in the future.”
Other parishes will be linked together in such a way that they will share a priest and, according to Archbishop Tobin, “cooperate in as many ways as possible.”
This will include the establishment of joint parish pastoral councils and other committees and commissions. Each parish will, however, maintain its own finance council, which is required by canon law.
Several parishes in the three deaneries affected by the Feb. 4 decisions had already shared a priest for several years, and will continue to do so. However, establishing joint parish pastoral councils will be a new step for them.
Two new sets of linked parishes have been created. St. Anne Parish in New Castle, which will receive the merged St. Rose of Lima Parish in Knightstown, will be linked with St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Cambridge City.
Holy Trinity Parish in Edinburgh, previously linked with St. Rose of Lima in Franklin, will now be linked with St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus.
Several sets of partnerships among parishes in the three deaneries will also be established. In such a relationship, the parishes will retain their own pastor or sacramental minister. They will, however, seek to identify, according to Archbishop Tobin, “possible opportunities for joint activity and shared resources.”
“The coming months will bring changes that, to some degree, touch all the faithful of the three deaneries,” Archbishop Tobin said. “I recognize that there will be grief for the members of the parishes that will close, and sincerely regret the pain these decisions will cause.
“While I personally know the anguish that comes when having your home parish closed, I am also certain that God is constantly working through us to advance the work of his Church, leading us through sorrow to new and more abundant life.”
(For more information about Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin’s decisions regarding the Bloomington, Connersville and Seymour deaneries that resulted from the Connected in the Spirit planning process, visit www.archindy.org/connected.) †