FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 28, 2006
NEXT PHASE OF REALIGNMENT PROCESS UNDERWAY
The Archdiocese of New York has completed the second phase of its planning process to realign parishes and schools in order to effectively meet the needs of the Catholic people it serves. Preliminary proposals have been developed, but no final decisions have yet been made. Parishes and schools under consideration now have the opportunity to discuss the recommended changes before final decisions are made.
This second phase of the realignment process, which has included a review by a group of laity, religious, and clergy of the preliminary proposals prepared by the Archdiocesan Realignment Staff, has resulted in recommendations about a series of recommendedchanges to be made in the number and location of certain parishes and schools of the Archdiocese. The pastors and principals of these parishes and schools are being informed of the proposals. They and their parish and school communities will then have an opportunity to offer their input as regards to the proposed changes in by way of a meeting with the Archdiocesan officials. Those meetings with the Archdiocesan Realignment Staffwill be scheduled over the next several weeks. It was recognized that the final decisions will entail the establisment of new parishes, the building and expansion of existing churches and schools, mergers, and where appropriate, closings.
The realignment process has involved more than two years of intensive consultation, study, and review of the needs of the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of New York., and an examination of how the resources of the Archdiocese can be best and most effectively used to meet those needs. Under the direction first of Bishop Timothy McDonnell, and currently of Bishop Dennis Sullivan, a series of principles and guidelines for evaluating parishes and schools were as developed to help assess the level of activity and service provided by each parish and school. The process utilized the best available information concerning population shifts and demographic trends. Bishop McDonnell and Bishop Sullivan each held numerous discussions to gather input, and solicit advice as each area of the Archdiocese was studied. Thereafter the Archdiocesan Realignment Advisory Panel (ARAP) met to review each of the proposed changes, and studied the proposals parish-by-parish and school-by-school to, offered their insights and counsel. In conclusion, Cardinal Egan will consult with the presbyteral council of the Archdiocese, and then announce the realignment plan.
Bishop Sullivan expressed his gratitude to those who have helped formulate the current proposals. "I would like to thank those who worked most closely with me for their dedication throughout the realignment process," said Bishop Sullivan. "I would also thank to Dr. Catherine Hickey, Secretary for Education for the work she and her colleagues did concerning the schools, and especially the Vicars, members of the local clergy, religious and laity throughout the Archdiocese for the countless hours of consultation and discussion in which they engaged to offer their invaluable input about what was needed in their local communities. A special word of thanks must be extended to the professional advisors and the Archdiocesan Realignment Advisory Panel for reviewing these proposals with great care. The advisory panel also helped to remind us that our decisions, however necessary, will have an impact on the lives of people; we must always be mindful of this, as we do all that we can to make the transitions that lie ahead proceed as smoothly and as sensitively as possible for all concerned."
The proposals impact all three boroughs of the City of New York and seven northern counties served by the Archdiocese.
The first set of proposals calls for intensive planning planning for to establish five new parishes: including one on Staten Island, two in Dutchess County, and two in Orange County. New churches are proposed for seven already existing parishes in the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Dutchess Counties. In addition, another mission church in Orange County will be closely monitored to see if it should eventually become a parish church. [NOTE: A LIST OF THE NAMES AND LOCATION OF THE PARISHES AND SCHOOLS IS ATTACHED.]
Under the proposal, sixteen parishes will have a change in status: twelve parishes will become missions and thereby become closely associated with neighboring parishes. In the case of four parishes, a chapel will be established in the area currently served by the parish. These transitions in status will enable the Archdiocese to continue to serve the Catholic community in those neighborhoods, while reducing the overall number of fully functioning parishes. Eight of these sixteen transitioning parishes have over the years already effectively begun to function as missions. With the change in status of these sixteen churches, neighboring parishes will assume responsibility for overseeing the new missions or chapels, to ensure that the needs of the faithful continue to be met.
A total of Fifteen other parishes have been recommended for closure. Eight of the fifteense sixteen parishes are in the three boroughs of New York City, and seven are in Westchester, Orange, and Dutchess counties. In each case, an in-depth review of the parish situation, and consultation with the local laity religious and clergy confirmed that the people from the area would be effectively served by near-by parishes. In addition, eight current missions will cease to function and will be reunited with their territorial parish. Finally, two parishes in Manhattan will merge and two churches in Ulster County will also merge. At each newly merged parish, Mass will be offered at both church sites.
Changes are also under consideration for some of our 235 Catholic elementary schools. Fourteen are being recommended for closure. However, every child in a Catholic school that may close is guaranteed a place in a near-by Catholic school. In order to continue excellence in Catholic education, several of the closed schools will be used for new and creative purposes, such as to allow for the expansion of a nearby Catholic high school, to establish a catechetical center for a local community, and to develop a Catholic academy school.
Two schools in Manhattan will merge, and two in Dutchess County will work together to share resources, with one school building educating students in grades K-4, and another school building educating students in grades 5-8.
Each of the parishes and schools that are considered for realignment will have the opportunity to meet with Bishop Sullivan or Dr. Hickey in order to discuss these proposed changes. Final decisions concerning schools will be made by the 24th of April.
After the parish communities have met with Bishop Sullivan, the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council will be informed of the recommendations so as to offer Cardinal Egan their advice and counsel. Only after all of these consultations are complete will Cardinal Egan conduct a review of all of the recommendations, and announce the final realignment plan.
Reflecting on the task of realigning the Archdiocese, Cardinal Egan noted that the Church needs to minister to its people wherever they are. "Our commitment to serving the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese is the same now as it was 200 years ago when the Church in New York was founded. The Church must be with its people, taking care of their religious, educational, sacramental and spiritual needs. This realignment will enable the Archdiocese to do that now, and in the years to come, as we continue to build and maintain strong, vibrant, communities of faith."
The Archdiocese of New York serves the pastoral, religious and educational needs of 2.5 million Catholics in the 409 parishes located in the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. Currently ministering within the Archdiocese are 686 Archdiocesan priests, 812 priests of religious communities, and 271 priests from other dioceses, as well as 354 permanent deacons. There are 287 Catholic elementary and secondary schools educating approximately 110,000 students, making the Archdiocese of New York the largest Catholic school system in the United States.