BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont is encouraging parishes to consider merging. They’re not forcing, they say they’re just suggesting.
This as catholic churches continue to struggle financially across the state
While on the first stop on a tour around the state -- Bishop Christopher Coyne spoke about struggles within the Catholic community, like a decline in members and resources. He says it’s about time for struggling parishes to join forces and some have already made the move. Back in December, Immaculate Conception in Burlington consolidated with St. Josephs, a few blocks away. While the church says they weren't forced to merge by the diocese, they had no other choice.
“It's taking a sinking ship and rescuing people off that ship before it sinks completely. In other words, we could not allow the church to go bankrupt and run out of money and then be in the hole. You can't run a parish by sentimentality. If you can't pay the bill then you can't keep the building running. One has to be very practical about that kind of thing," said Father Lance Harlow.
In the spring, the Diocese says it plans to start an evaluation process.
They will be examining the strengths and weaknesses of parishes across the state. It says it's too early to say if any will be encouraged to consolidate.