The Associated Press
BATESVILLE (AP) - The archdiocese of Indianapolis plans to decrease the number of parishes in southern Indiana from 30 to 20 due to shifting populations in area communities.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin announced the move Friday at a news conference at St. Louis Church in Batesville, the base of one of three Catholic church districts where the changes will be made. The other two districts are based in Connersville and Seymour.
Twelve parishes, most of them located in small or rural communities, will be merged with larger ones, Tobin said.
He said the church has to adapt to the shrinking and growth of various parishes, declining attendance at Mass and a decline in the number of available priests.
Two new parishes will be established, he said. A new church and regional school may be built in northern Dearborn County, near the Ohio border.
The changes are the result of a two-year study by pastoral leaders and lay members, Tobin said.
“I truly regret the pain these decisions will cause,” Tobin said. “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.”
Tobin said he wanted to take time to review the proposed reconfiguration after he took over from former archbishop Daniel Buechlein last October. Changes have already been made in the Terre Haute area and currently are being studied in Indianapolis.
Parishes in Hamburg, Cedar Grove, Batesville, Dover, St. Leon, Yorkville, New Alsace, Jennings County, New Marion, Ripley County, St. Maurice and Enochsburg will be merged with other nearby parishes, he said.
Parishioners who oppose the changes can file a challenge with the archbishop within 10 business days, and if they are dissatisfied with the decision they can petition the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican.