As you are already aware, our diocese and many dioceses around the country are dealing with declining numbers of both priests and parishioners. Consequently, we must plan for the future as best we can, based on the projected number of priests available to minister, as well as the number of people in our parishes. The Diocese of Norwich began the process several years ago with the clustering of parishes, and then the yoking of parishes, and some mergers in which one parish closed. Now we are looking again at the merger of parishes, but without closing either church building. This option has been used in many dioceses. The result of such mergers is that one parish has two worship sites, or churches.
By merging two parishes into one parish with two worship sites, we simplify the many administrative tasks involved in parish life, and minimize, we hope, the disruption of parishioners’ regular schedule of religious practice. This year, there will be four such parish mergers in the Diocese.
- Notre Dame Parish, Durham and St. Colman Parish, Middlefield will come together as the Parish of Our Lady of Mercy.
- Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Essex and St. Joseph Parish, Chester will come together as the Parish of St. Teresa of Calcutta
- St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Storrs and St. Mary Parish,Coventry will come together as the Parish of Our Lady Queenof Peace.
- Saint John Parish, Old Saybrook and St. Mark Parish, Westbrook will come together as the Parish of St. Pio
These mergers will become effective on December 3, 2018, the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier. Through a more measured approach to the restructuring of the parishes in our diocese we hope to be more sensitive to the deep feelings of attachment our people have to their parishes. As our diocese continues to move forward in pastoral planning, let us join together in prayer and in action, praying for each other, and working toward our goal of vital, vibrant parishes. Let us always remember to pray for each other as we journey together into a future bright with promise and filled with an abundance of God’s grace.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich.