The Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas V Daily has issued a pastoral letter asking all his parishes to review the schedule of their Masses and number of parishioners by 28th February. The possibility of a major cut back, on services and a combination of parishes to share resources and priests, is imminent.
According to the statement, ordinations in the diocese of New York are down 92% from 20 years ago, and there are 39% fewer priests than in 1980. That leaves 416 priests to serve the 2 million Catholics in the 223 parishes and chapels in the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The shortage is projected to worsen over the next 10 years, given that half of the active priests will be eligible for retirement by 2010.
According to the New York Times there are no church closures planned. Decisions about cutbacks and realignments will be made after the February 28 deadline.
At least one ‘cluster’ of churches has already been formed – grouping eight to 12 parishes to share resources.