Boston plans to reorganize parishes

Catholic News Service reports on another wave of changes in the works in Boston.


  1. Most of us, at least here in the Boston archdiocese, have not fully faced this future defined by parish clusters and mergers. The one Massachusetts merger with which I’m most familiar (St. Julia’s in Weston and St. Joseph’s in Lincoln) has worked relatively well but there are obvious tensions. To begin, the pastor is over-burdened and attempts to unify parish programs and liturgies have met some resistance (e.g., music preferences and levels of participation differ).

    Mergers also raise inevitable concerns among individual employees regarding evolving job descriptions. Will one person serve both communities or will there be a division of labor? To get to the essentials, will salaries and work load increase or will the reverse be true?

  2. This concept of parish clusters is quite common in rural Ontario where I live. My boyhood parish was made a mission of another parish in the 1980s and is now a cluster with a 3rd parish. It’s in the Archdiocese of Kingston.
    Where I live now (Archdiocese of Ottawa) our parish has a tiny mission community some distance away. I could see a decision being made to cluster our parish with two closer (larger) parishes and to close the mission.

  3. Here’s the part that I don’t understand about what they’re proposing:

    Instead, the planning commission will consider how to combine a number of church communities – which currently function as independent parishes – into single parishes that would continue to worship in separate spaces.

    If they’re single parishes that worship in separate spaces, how is that really any different than having one priest be the pastor of multiple parishes? My suggestion would be that if you have two adjacent parishes that are having difficulties, to close one and have the pastor of the now-closed parish become the pastor of the new, combined parish. (I know that this was done in San Francisco at least once when they closed parishes in the ’90s.)

    1. In theory, this arrangement would allow persons attached to a specific place and group of people to continue to worship in and with the same, while consolidating record keeping, bookkeeping, and the Finance Council. (One would suspect that the Pastoral Council, being wholly consultative and not canonically requisite, might remain as two distinct bodies, at least at first. Likewise religious education and community events might remain distinct, at least for some time.)

      Fewer jobs, undoubtedly, and more work for those who remain.

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