More than 50 Catholic churches in Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and parts of the Hudson Valley could soon be merging with other parishes or closing altogether, Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced in a newspaper column late Wednesday.
In the column for Catholic New York, Dolan said that the decision to consolidate about 14 percent of the 368 parishes of Archdiocese of New York comes after years of shrinking congregations and displacement of once-staunchly Catholic communities in New York City and the surrounding suburbs. Dolan said archdiocese has been preparing for the consolidation for five years.
“I wish it could be different. I’d rather be adding parishes, or expanding the ones we have — and, by the way, we will be! — instead of consolidating some,” Dolan said.
Dolan said parishioners will know in the coming weeks whether their churches will be closing or adding members from sister parishes.
Dolan said the move will help the archdiocese better manage its resource and will increase staffing at the remaining parishes.
He added that there are just too many parishes in the archdiocese. Manhattan in particular, he said, has 88 parishes, some just blocks apart, even though only 12 percent of the 2.8 million Catholics in the area live in the borough.
“What we’re talking about is realism,” Dolan said. “Families do it, our schools have done it, corporations do it — now our parishes must do it: we merge in the areas where the population has shrunk, and build and expand — both plants and ministries — in areas where the Catholic numbers are bustling.”
The Archdiocese of New York includes Catholic parishes in Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and in Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties.