The Archdiocese of Omaha plans to consolidate some of the churches in its rural communities by mid-2018.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the archdiocese included the following proposed consolidations for churches in its rural southwest and central deaneries:
- Platte Center: St. Joseph Parish consolidates with St. Isidore Parish in Columbus; St. Joseph Church would become a chapel.
- Duncan: St. Stanislaus Parish consolidates with St. Anthony Parish in Columbus; St. Stanislaus Church becomes a chapel.
- Krakow: Ss. Peter & Paul Parish consolidates with St. Rose of Lima Parish in Genoa; Ss. Peter & Paul Church becomes a chapel.
- Clarks: St. Peter Parish consolidates with St. Michael Parish in Central City; St. Peter Church becomes a chapel.
- Tarnov: St. Michael Parish consolidates with St. Francis Parish in Humphrey; St. Michael Church becomes a chapel.
- Tilden: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish consolidates with St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Neligh; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church becomes a chapel.
- Raeville: St. Bonaventure Church consolidates with St. Boniface Parish in Elgin; St. Bonaventure Church becomes a chapel.
- Schoolcraft: St. Francis de Sales Parish consolidates with St. Patrick Parish in Battle Creek; St. Francis de Sales Church becomes a chapel.
- Petersburg: St. John the Baptist Parish consolidate with St. Michael Parish in Albion; St. John the Baptist Church becomes a mission church, with Sunday Masses and other sacraments.
Churches designated as chapels would be available for weddings, funerals and other events, according to the press release.
"The report also recommended schools in several areas including Columbus; Lindsay, Humphrey and Madison; Clarkson, Howells and Dodge consider working with the archdiocese’s Catholic Schools Office to form regional school systems or networks," the press release states.
The consolidation plan emerged after a study last fall of 31 parishes in the two deaneries determined several parishes would benefit from forming regional clusters in order to share personnel, resources and programs, the press release states. The study evaluated the following attributes:
- Geographical location and distance for people to reach a parish campus
- Potential for population growth
- Demographics in the area
- Parish data regarding sacramental activity, membership, and finances
- Ability to support and maintain ministries to implement the archdiocesan vision summarized in the phrase, “One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy.”
- Seating capacity of the churches
- Condition and suitability of other facilities available for ministry
- Opportunities for collaboration among parishes, meaning the cooperation of two or more parishes to share personnel, ministries, programs and resources
"The overall objective of developing a rural pastoral plan is to have parish communities that will be even more mission-focused and better positioned to implement the pastoral vision announced last year by Archbishop Lucas," Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese, said in the press release.
Pastors began informing their congregations about the proposals early this month, McNeil said, and parish and deanery-level meetings will continue as feedback is sought and final recommendations prepared for the archbishop.
Lucas is expected to finalize the recommendations and any subsequent changes in November, allowing the changes to be implemented by mid-2018.
McNeil said 56 parishes in the rural northwest, rural north central, rural northeast and rural southeast deaneries will undergo a similar study in the next 18 months.
Full reports from the study are available online on the archdiocese website.