Mass at St. Paul Church in New Alsace. Under a June 6 decree from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, St. Paul will merge with three other parishes to form one parish with just two worship sites by Advent of 2014.
(Dearborn County, Ind.) - Individuals from seven southeast Indiana Catholic churches slated to close or merge are petitioning the Archbishop of Indianapolis to change his decision.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin announced in June decrees to close, merge, or partner 12 parishes in the Batesville Deanery, which covers most of southeast Indiana, by the end of November 2014. It has been reported that a lack of availabel priests, not a lack of church-goers, has been the driving reason for the changes.
Since that announcement, many individual members of those parishes have written to the Archbishop asking him to keep their church open. According to Archdiocese spokesman Greg Otolski, the parishes from which the petitions have been received include St. Joseph in St. Leon, Holy Guardian Angels in Cedar Grove, St. Martin in Yorkville, St. John the Baptist in Dover, St. Paul in New Alsace, St. Anne in Hamburg and St. Mary of the Rock in Franklin County. Under the decrees, each of those parishes will either close or merge with a nearby church.
In a statement to Eagle 99.3 Wednesday, Tobin addressed the petitions he has received from individuals at those seven parishes. The Archbishop said he did not receive any new information from the petitioners that would cause him to rescind the decrees.
“I understand the disappointment and sadness that people are experiencing,” Archbishop Tobin said. “I regret the pain these decisions have caused, but I still believe that these decisions will strengthen our archdiocese.”
If the petitions to the Archbishop have been unsuccessful, there is still another avenue for the parishes to pursue. According to Canon law, Individual parish members can still try to appeal the decrees by petitioning the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican in Rome. Such a task would likely require the hiring of a Canon lawyer, Otolski has previously said.
More specific information on the Batesville Deanery decrees and what they will mean for each area Catholic church can be found in this June 6 story.