Evansville Diocese Streamlining Parishes

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The Catholic Diocese of Evansville has announced six new parishes will be established after the merger of 15 existing congregations beginning next year. The move does not include closing any churches. A spokesman for the Diocese says the mergers mean all assets and liabilities of the merging parishes will be consolidated.

September 26, 2014

News Release

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Most Rev. Charles C. Thompson, Bishop of the Diocese of Evansville, announced today the establishment of six new parishes and an Oratory over the next two years as the result of mergers that involve 15 existing parishes. Mergers will take effect between April 27, 2015, and July 1, 2016.

The bishop also announced that none of the churches involved in the mergers are closing as a result of these moves, which represent the continuation of parish reorganizations that began last year. Holy Trinity Church, however, will be changed to an Oratory, which the Catholic Church defines as a structure other than a parish church that is set aside for certain forms of Divine worship, such as the celebration of Mass.

Bishop Thompson has designated the pastor of St. John Parish in Daylight to assume responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the Oratory, subject to direction and oversight by the diocese. Holy Trinity will maintain ownership of the Reitz Chalice and other holy artifacts.

"Over the years," Bishop Thompson said, "the number of Holy Trinity parishioners who actually live within its territorial boundaries has dwindled to virtually none. Many of those parishioners, while continuing to attend Holy Trinity, also have been attending St John Daylight because the two parishes share similar ecclesiologies. It is not possible for us to merge Holy Trinity and St. John Daylight, however, because Canon Law mandates that parishes being merged share territorial boundaries.

"As we continue to reorganize parishes across the diocese, we remain focused on keeping the Diocese of Evansville a lively, faith-filled community," Bishop Thompson added. "Throughout my involvement with this process, which began more than six years ago under Bishop-Emeritus Gerald Gettelfinger, I have been moved by the tremendous faith of our Catholic community. They continue to let the Holy Spirit guide them as they come together to form new parish communities. We already see the fruits of their faith in several new parishes that came to life on July 1."

As was the case with the announcements made in September 2013, Bishop Thompson will make pastoral assignments at the appropriate times.

The Sept. 26 issue of The Message, the Diocese of Evansville's weekly newspaper, includes the official decrees enabling the mergers and a pastoral letter from Bishop Thompson about the mergers and the reorganization process.

Parishes created by Decrees on Sept. 26, 2014

Following are the new parishes created in the Catholic Diocese of Evansville by the Decrees published Sept. 27, 2014.

Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Evansville, created by the merger of Saint Joseph Parish (a.k.a. St. Joseph in the city) in Evansville and the existing Saint Anthony of Padua Parish. Effective July 1, 2015.

Saints Mary and John Parish and Holy Trinity Oratory in Evansville, created by the merger of Holy Trinity Parish in Evansville with the existing Saints Mary and John Parish in Evansville. Effective April 27, 2015.

Good Shepherd Parish in Evansville, created by the merger of St. Theresa Parish in Evansville and the existing Good Shepherd Parish. Effective July 1, 2016.

Saint Anthony Parish in Saint Anthony, created by the merger of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Schnellville with the existing St. Anthony Parish. Effective July 1, 2016.

Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes, created by the merger of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Vincennes; St. John the Baptist Parish in Vincennes; St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Vincennes; and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Vincennes with the existing Basilica of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes. Effective July 1, 2016.

Saint Peter Celestine Parish in Celestine, created by the merger of Saint Raphael Parish in Dubois with the existing Saint Peter Celestine Parish in Celestine. Effective July 1, 2016.

Future parish links in the Diocese of Evansville

Seven parishes will link on July 1, 2015, including:

Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Petersburg and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oakland City will link.

St. Joseph Parish in Princeton and St. Bernard Parish in Snake Run will link.

Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch, St. James Parish in Haubstadt and Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Haubstadt will link.

Depending on pastoral availability, future additional parish links will most likely include:

Corpus Christi Parish in Evansville and St. Philip Parish in Posey County will link.

St. Ferdinand Parish in Ferdinand and St. Henry Parish in St. Henry will link.

Also, it is possible that St. Mary Parish in Ireland and Precious Blood Parish in Jasper, which are now linked, also will link with one or both of the other parishes in Jasper – Holy Family Parish in Jasper and St. Joseph Parish.

Q&A about parish reorganization

When do the mergers become effective?

No merger announced Sept. 26, 2014, will become effective before April 27, 2015.

Isn’t this entire process a reaction to a shortage of priests?

Actually, the decline represents a return to priestly levels that are historically stable. In the decade immediately following WWII, the U.S. saw the largest rise in priestly vocations in the nation’s history. The average number of priests serving parishes in 1960 was almost twice the 1950 number. Today, however, the number of priests available to serve parishes is virtually identical to 1950 (i.e. an average of 1.01 in 1950 to 0.97 today) according to data from Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

What’s happening to the churches in merged parishes?

All churches in the Diocese of Evansville remain open. Parish reorganization does not include decisions to close any church across our 12 counties.

What is an Oratory? Why did the diocese change Holy Trinity Church to an Oratory?

In the Roman Catholic Church, an Oratory is a structure other than a parish church that is set aside for certain forms of Divine worship, such as the celebration of Mass. Bishop Thompson has designated the pastor of St. John Parish in Daylight to assume responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the Oratory, subject to direction and oversight by the diocese. Holy Trinity will maintain ownership of the Reitz Chalice and other holy artifacts.

What happens to the staffs of parishes that no longer exist due to mergers?

The pastor and parish councils of the newly created parishes will be responsible for decisions regarding staffing. There is no indication that mergers will result in significant layoffs or changes.

What happens to the Catholic cemeteries?

Merged parishes will be responsible for perpetual maintenance of any cemeteries that were previously part of parishes that merged. No cemetery will be abandoned or otherwise neglected as a result of any changes announced in this or any phase of the Strategic Plan.

What happens to the Catholic schools?

Schools become part of the newly merged parishes. The pastors and schools’ staffs will determine plans for the educational component of their overall parish ministries moving forward.

When will Masses be, and where?

Every pastor will determine the Mass schedule for each parish, in accordance with Canon Law.

What happens to the finances and ministries of the merged parishes?

On the effective date of each merger, the assets and liabilities for each merged parish become part of the newly created (by the merger) parish. From that point forward, the collections taken at services in each worship site within the