BY Daniel Harkins | September 11 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6-BISHOP-TOAL

Bishop Toal opens dialogue over future of Motherwell parishes

In a letter to be sent this weekend to churches in Motherwell Diocese, the bishop discusses the possibilities of parish mergers and a reduction in the number of churches

Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell has written to parishioners laying out the beginnings of possible parish changes within the diocese.

In a letter to be made available in churches this weekend, newly installed Bishop Toal (above) explains a number of proposals currently being considered between now and 2020 to manage the diocese’s human resources, buildings and congregational needs. These include options to merge some parishes, having one priest for two parishes, and the possibility of reducing the overall number of churches, and echo plans being considered in other Scottish Diocese.

In his letter, the bishop says that the proposals will allow for each parish to keep its present identity, ‘which means in many cases one priest will be parish priest of two parishes (as is already the case in a number of parishes).’

“It may be necessary and prudent though to begin to think of uniting two parishes into one,” the bishop writes. “This would mean that the one parish would have two churches.

“This set-up would be worth considering in Motherwell, especially when parishes are close together and will be sharing priests in the future. In this set-up the faithful will continue to have their local church but the parish structure administration will be united—this will certainly be a help for the parish priests caring for these parishes.”

Bishop Toal goes on to say that each local situation will be assessed with the needs of the parishioners and parish priest given full consideration, before addressing the possibility of church closures.

“Looking further ahead questions may arise, and merit consideration, as to the wisdom of maintaining the present number of churches,” he writes. “Where churches are very close to one another, and perhaps competing almost for the local faithful, it may be wise to consider whether it would be better to have one church instead of two. This can be an emotive issue as people are attached to their ‘own’ church but sometimes difficult decisions have to be taken and we may need to face up to this possibility in Motherwell Diocese as elsewhere.

He added that ‘maintaining or repairing a particular building may also have to be taken into account.’

The bishop closes by encouraging parishioners to join him at upcoming meetings to discuss the proposals.

No effective date has been set for any changes and the planned adjustments are currently at a discussion stage only.

 

—daniel@sconews.co.uk

 

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