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Published: Saturday, 2/12/2005

Closing our churches is no solution

Closing Catholic churches is not the answer. The bishop and his staff say the closings and merging are necessary because of the shortage of priests. They say this process, studied for 10 years, is a "pro-active" step for the future of the diocese. To me, closing parishes is more of a "re-active" step to help cover internal shortcomings in the diocese vocations program. The priest shortage in northwest Ohio is not to be blamed solely on the people.

I belong to St. Paul's in Hamler, which is part of a triplicate cluster with St. Mary's, Holgate, and Sacred Heart, New Bavaria. This cluster works fine and our pastor agrees that it is manageable for him, yet the bishop is proposing to close us down. If needed, why not promote more twinning and even tripling instead of closing?

The workload for priests can be reasonably maintained by allowing them to concentrate mainly on spiritual needs and allowing lay people and deacons to handle the day-to-day functions such as building maintenance, finances, etc. This basic system has worked in our cluster for the past several years. There is no need to close our parish.

The closings are mainly based on pins on a map without regard to individual parish functions, vitality, charitable outreach, and community involvement. Most parishes slated for closing are financially sound and church buildings are in good shape. If our church is closed, my wife and I do not know which neighboring parish to join, because it also could be closed in the near future. We surely don't want to go through this again.

Contact your pastor, deanery leader, Bishop Blair, and his staff with ideas and thoughts regarding this process. Closing churches is not the answer.

Don Schmenk

Hamler, Ohio

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit said it best as quoted in a recent column in The Blade: The real reason they're closing parishes is because there are not enough priests. He suggests training lay people to take over the parishes and priests can visit infrequently for the sacraments.

Small groups of people met together in the early church. I hate to see little parishes swallowed up by big rich ones. I don't know about the other ones, but St. Agnes has a large, loyal group of worshippers plus 200 students in the school. It would be Christian for the diocese to help them financially to survive.

Also, I don't know how having three schools teaching K-5 and opening a new junior high could be financially advantageous. It doesn't make sense.

Putting junior high students in one school has never been a good idea. They need police in the public school. The Catholic school idea of 7th and 5th graders to be looked up to by younger students is better.


Goddard Road

Separate entrances at a school construction site for union and non-union workers? Puh-lease! What's next? Separate restrooms and drinking fountains?

Kim Beckman


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