When our Lord walked the face of the earth, His Church was "the people". Somewhere along the 200 decades since that time, Church has taken on the meaning of building, property.
This year our diocese will begin the challenging task of restructuring and consolidating parishes. I believe we are the last diocese in Pennsylvania to pull up the sleeves and attack the issue. The grim reality is that we have less priests to serve the needs of the people entrusted to us. Pastors at present have one, two, three and even four parishes. Granted, we are still better off than other parishes in the country where some parishes only see a priest once a month.
In the next year and a half our Bishop in consultation with various committees (both lay and cleric) will be attempting to place priests of the diocese where the people are located. Currently, we have priests assigned to parishes that have very few parishioners. No doubt we will place priests where they can do the best work.
Unfortunately, many national or ethnic churches will be closed. When the immigrants arrived in this country the Church was to some degree their sanctuary from the new world. Today, hardly any of the ethnic parishes in our diocese even know the language of the country they left. Many of the smaller parishes cannot support themselves much longer due to population shifts, loss of ethnic traditions by the young and the decline in certain industrial/manufacturing jobs.
May we pray the those who will be hurt by this process and that they will be able to see the great opportunities that abound in the future.