The Catholic Diocese of Duluth is in the midst of looking at ways to reorganize its parishes as it faces a projected shortage of priests and changing demographics.

 

 Bishop Paul Sirba will host a news conference Friday afternoon at the diocesan pastoral center in Duluth to discuss the "roadmap for a diocesan strategic planning process" and to answer questions.

 

"The strategic planning process, announced late last year, will be a major initiative involving input from every parish in the diocese, including hundreds of lay Catholics as well as diocesan clergy. The process is necessary to address the changing availability of priests for ministry in the diocese and changes in the demographics of where people are living in the diocese. It will also include an assessment of the infrastructure and financial health of parishes and clergy health and well-being."

 

Bishop Paul Sirba

Bishop Paul Sirba

 

 

The St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese released its own major reorganization plan this past fall following nearly 20 months of study and consultation with lay Catholics and clergy. The reorganization calls for 21 parishes to merge into other parishes. Another 33 parishes will join new cluster configurations in which one pastor will lead two or more parishes.

 After the mergers are completed, there will be a total of 192 parishes. Archdiocesan officials say the structural changes will take place over several years. Also, as part of the reorganization, three Catholic schools in the Twin Cities archdiocese will close.

In the Diocese of Duluth, projections are that the number of priests available for ministry will begin to grow in coming years, but not before the number falls significantly through a number of retirements.

 "I am committed to a strategic planning process that will have two hallmarks: transparency and planning on the local (deanery) level," Bishop Sirba said in a letter to the Catholics of the diocese.

The Diocese of Duluth covers 22,354 square miles including 10 Minnesota counties, Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis. Its 94 parishes serve a Catholic population of 63,423.