(Batesville, Ind.) – Vast changes are coming to southeast Indiana’s Catholic churches as the Archbishop of Indianapolis announced some local parishes would be merged or closed.
“The coming months will bring changes that touch all the faithful of the Batesville Deanery, as well as a particular grief for the members of the parishes that will close. I truly regret the pain these decisions will cause,” Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin said during a Thursday morning press conference before 300 people at St. Louis Church in Batesville.
The move affects 27 churches in the Batesville Deanery – which covers much of the Eagle 99.3 listening area – as well as two from the Connersville Deanery and one from the Seymour Deanery.
The affected parishes will either be closed merged, linked, or form partnerships with other nearby parishes. The twelve to close include St. Anne Parish in Hamburg, Holy Guardian Angels in Cedar Grove, St. Mary of the Rock in Batesville, St. John the Baptist in Dover, St. Joseph in St. Leon, St. Martin in Yorkville, St. Paul in New Alsace, St. Denis in Jennings County, St. Mary Magdalene in New Marion, St. Pius in Ripley County, St. Maurice in St. Maurice, and St. John the Evangelist in Enochsburg.
St. Lawrence Church in Lawrenceburg and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Church in Bright will establish a partnership starting December 1. The two parishes will create joint programs and share staff and services.
Good news for St. Teresa is that the move could come with a new church building. The Archdiocese will assist with a feasibility on constructing a new church.
Four churches in more rural areas of Dearborn County will merge into one parish in December. St. John the Baptist Parish in Dover, St. Joseph Parish in St. Leon, St. Martin Parish in Yorkville and St. Paul Parish in New Alsace will have four worship sites during its first year of existence to be reduced to two worship sites no later than the First Sunday of Advent of 2014 – November 30.
A silver lining for those four parishes will be the study looking into building a new church or regional religious school.
St. Mary Parish in Aurora will partner with two Ripley County churches. St. Pius and St. Charles Borromeo in Milan will merge by December. All three will then share programs, staff, and services.
St. Nicholas in Sunman and St. Anthony in Morris will become linked parishes by December 1, and then partner with St. Louis Parish in Batesville. The three will be encouraged to create joint programs and share staff and services when appropriate.
Here is the rest of the Batesville Deanery plan as laid out by the Archbishop:
-St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County will become linked parishes by July 3, 2013. As linked parishes, the two parishes will share a priest and combine as many programs, ministries and administrative functions as possible. The two parishes will continue to have separate finance councils as required under Canon Law.
-Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Cedar Grove will merge into St. Michael Parish in Brookville effective December 1, 2013. The new parish from this merger will become part of the Batesville Deanery. St. Peter Parish of Franklin County will form a partnership with St. Michael Parish in Brookville. Under a partnership model, the two parishes will create joint programs and share staff and services.
-St. Anne Parish in Hamburg and St. Mary of the Rock Parish in Batesville will merge into Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg effective December 1, 2013.
-St. Denis Parish in Jennings County will merge into Immaculate Conception Parish in Millhousen effective December 1, 2013. Immaculate Conception Parish in Millhousen, St. Maurice Parish in Napoleon and St. John the Baptist Parish in Osgood will form a partnership. The three parishes will collaborate in providing programs and pastoral ministry where possible.
-St. Mary Magdalene Parish in New Marion will merge into Prince of Peace in Madison effective December 1, 2013.
-St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg and St. Maurice Parish in St. Maurice will merge effective December 1, 2013 and will become part of a new parish to be established in northern Decatur County. The parish will conduct worship at the churches of the two present parishes subject to period review. The new parish will enter into a partnershipwith St. Mary Parish in Greensburg effective December 1, 2013. Under a partnership model, the two parishes will create joint programs and share staff and services.
Tobin, in his first year as Archbishop, said the decision was made by a planning commission of 20 to 25 ordained, religious, and lay leaders. The parishes of the Batesville Deanery had already concluded their self-assessment and the planning commission had submitted its recommendations when he arrived in December.
He said he is convinced that the process used to decide on the changes are a sincere attempt at the discerning of God’s will.
“I chose not to implement immediately these recommendations. Instead, I wanted to become more familiar with the Batesville Deanery as well as the entire Archdiocese and enter into a broad consultation with a variety of groups: representatives of the affected parishes, the Council of Priests, the senior managers of the Archdiocese and others,” the Archbishop said.
Tobin noted that each parish does have the opportunity to seek recourse from the Archdiocese’s plan. Notice must be given within 10 “useful” days.
“While I personally know the anguish that comes when having your home parish closed, I am also certain that the 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.