The Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, is undergoing a major reorganization, with 15 churches closing and 17 merging. This is due to a combination of factors, including declining attendance, fewer young priests, and population changes in the area. The churches that will close include Corpus Christi, San Juan Church, Santa Cruz Parish, Saint Philip the Apostle, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, and the Church and School of San Antonio. The diocese has also issued suppression decrees to some churches in the area, ordering them to close or merge.
Columbus is a popular resettlement city for immigrants and refugees, and the population has been growing steadily in recent years. However, this growth has not been reflected in the number of parishioners belonging to the Diocese of Columbus. Capuchin Franciscan priests will arrive this summer to staff two churches in a recently merged parish. In response to these demographic changes, the diocese has published a “pastoral plan” for the first time in decades. This plan reviews the structure of its 105 parishes across 23 Ohio counties and includes the merger or closure of dozens of churches.
Bishop Earl K. Kovaleski said that public schools in his area have larger classes and fewer resources than Catholic schools. He also suggested that the influx of population could mean the construction of new Catholic schools in parts of the diocese. Analyses of changing trends in the Catholic Church suggest divisions between parishioners and religious leaders over social issues, particularly their management of sexual abuse within their ranks. At 24%, Catholics are more likely than their non-Catholic counterparts (9%) to believe that sexual abuse in the church is a thing of the past. The Peter and Paul school near Wellston in Jackson County was going to close after 115 years of serving the community.
After the announcement of 15 churches closing and 17 merging across the diocese, parishioners expressed sadness that these churches are no longer part of their lives. The Catholic Diocese of Columbus is undergoing a major reorganization due to changing demographics and other factors. This includes 15 churches closing and 17 merging across 23 Ohio counties. Parishioners have expressed sadness at these changes, but Bishop Earl K. Kovaleski believes that new Catholic schools may be built as a result of population growth.