Catholic Diocese of Sioux City to close 41 parishes
[The spring(?)time of Vatican II comes to Sioux City, Iowa]
February 28, 2016
The Catholic Diocese of Sioux City plans to begin consolidating 41 parishes during the summer of 2017.
The office unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would reduce the number of the diocese’s parishes from 108 to 67, due to a shortage of priests and decreased Mass attendance.
In the last eight years, only 16 out the 108 parishes have grown, according to the Associated Press. Overall Mass attendance has dropped nearly 25 percent since 2008.
Parishes being consolidated will become oratories, meaning there will be no weekly worship services. An oratory will still be able to host a variety of social functions, such as prayer services, funerals and weddings. None of the buildings will close but oratories will be maintained by the parish receiving the worshipers of consolidated parishes.
Most of the churches closing are in rural areas, where the average age of parishioners has increased and the size of families has decreased which leaves the parishes with a shrinking population. However, the consolidation will not affect any of the diocese’s 23 Catholic schools.
Members will have to relocate to a different parish in one of the 24 counties within the Sioux City Diocese, which spans across Northwest Iowa. The proposal would divide the Sioux City Diocese into four different geographical regions – southwest, southeast, northwest and northeast. There are currently four Roman Catholic dioceses in Iowa: Sioux City, Des Moines, Davenport and an Archdiocese in Dubuque.
The Sioux City Diocese is also experiencing a shortage of priests, mostly due to retirements. The Ministry 2025 proposal would relocate 12 priests to various different parishes. The proposal hopes to lessen the workload of current priest, cutting Masses down to only three per week. The rationale behind it is to help keep priests healthy and avoid overworking themselves.