The Archdiocese of Chicago announced this week the development of several new parish groupings as part of the “Renew My Church” plan.
The archdiocese announced the decision March 9 and 10. The plan is to combine 13 parishes into five clusters, which will minister to regions south of Chicago.
On Tuesday, the archdiocese said the parishes St. Benedict, St. Walter, and St. Peter Claver Mission will join together under a new parish name and be pastored by Monsignor Dennis Lyle. The schools of St. Walter and St. Benedict will be combined for the next school year, but carry out education on the two campuses.
The archdiocese also stated that St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr parish will join the St. Christopher and St. Damian grouping, which takes place at the St. Donatus Parish, and is pastored by Fr. Diego Cadavid.
On the following day, the archdiocese said parishes St. Ann, St. James, and St. John will unite to form a new parish with two worship sites. Fr. Mark Kalema will be the new parish cluster’s pastor.
The statement said that St. Agnes, St. Kieran, and St. Paul will unite under a new parish name and be pastored by Fr. Gary Graf, currently pastor of San Jose Sanchez del Rio Parish. St. Irenaeus and St. Lawrence O’Toole will continue discernment and discussion with a parish cluster in Cook County.
The new parish names will be discerned by the local community and three to five options will be submitted to Blase Cardinal Cupichof Chicago.
Over the past several months, representatives from each of the parishes and schools have met to review and discuss the future of local parishes, schools, and church structures. These “feedback and discernment teams” then submit a report to the Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission.
The commission is made up of representatives from across the archdiocese. The team reviews the feedback reports, demographic data, financial information, and local trends. They then present the information to the archdiocese’s bishops and presbyteral council.
Moving forward, the archdiocese said it will continue to work with the current parishes and their pastors to support the communities in transition. To further this goal, the Renew My Church Accompaniment Team works with “local leaders to ensure the uniting faith communities and staff are supported through this time of change.”
“All parishes will embark on the next phase of renewal to become stronger, more sustainable and more capable of reaching people in their work of making disciples of Jesus Christ, building communities and inspiring witness,” the archdiocese said, according to the recent statements.
The closures are part of Cardinal Cupich’s project “Renew My Church.” The cardinal announced the initiative in 2016. At the time, around 100 parishes were expected to close due to a shortage of priests and church buildings in need of repair, the Tribune reports.
“Renew My Church is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s response to Christ’s call and our invitation for renewal. The Renew My Church process will transform the archdiocese over the next several years by working with groupings of parishes to determine how they will achieve the goal of having vibrant, life-giving faith communities accessible to all Catholics,” the archdiocese added.