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BLOOMFIELD, CT — The Archdiocese of Hartford has announced that 59 parishes across three counties will be merged, and 26 of those buildings will close.
Archbishop Leonard Blair said Sunday at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield that the new structure, slated to take effect June 29, is meant to create stability throughout the archdiocese and reinvigorate faith in the state.
However, Blair said he couldn’t guarantee this plan will foreclose any other closings in the the future.
“I can’t stand before you here today and say that with this plan, the next 10 years now we don’t have to do anything,” Blair said.
“That would be irresponsible on my part and simply not the case. I can tell you that what we are doing today goes a long way to providing stability in the assignment of priests and in the life of these parishes.”
The bishop linked the decision to declining Mass attendance.
“If the diminishment [sic] of church practice continues the way it is in our society – and I daresay that this is not just a Catholic challenge, but in many respects for religion – then we have to … be prepared to deal with things further down the line,” Blair said.
“To try to hold onto something, a structure, a skeleton that no longer corresponds to the realities of today ultimately can be discouraging and diminishing,” he said. “The point is to try to revitalize the mission.”
The archdiocese currently oversees 212 parishes in Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties. That number is expected to drop to 127. The church anticipates shrinking to 85 pastorates by 2027.
Some churches may be re-purposed into such things as youth centers or homeless shelters.
The archdiocese began working on a consolidation plan last spring due to factors such as a declining number of priests and lower attendance at Masses.