HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH/AP) – The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford is planning a major reorganization that is expected to involve the closing of a number of churches.
Archbishop Leonard Blair is expected to announce the changes on Sunday. A press conference is scheduled at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.
“It’s Archbishop Blair’s thought and his hope that people would be told in their individual parishes,” said Father James Shanley, Rector of the Cathedral at St. Joseph in Hartford.
The changes follow a two year pastoral planning process. The archdiocese began working on a consolidation plan last spring due to factors such as a declining number of priests and lower attendance at Masses.
The archdiocese currently oversees 212 parishes in Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties. As of June 29, there will be 127 parishes in the archdiocese. The church anticipates shrinking to 85 pastorates by 2027. Sixty-eight of them will remain as they are now, but 59 will merge. The mergers will involve unions of two to six parishes.
Some church leaders say the changes could present new opportunities.
“We’ll be having a new relationship with Holy Trinity Parish, which is downtown Hartford, and hopefully we can do some great things together,” said Shanley.
More than two dozen church buildings will close, meaning regularly scheduled Masses will no longer be held in them. Some churches may be repurposed into such things as youth centers or homeless shelters.