News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 29, 2013

READERS' FORUM: July 29, 2013

More parishes targeted to close by Archdiocese

There they go again. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is closing 12 churches in the Batesville Deanery in Indiana — closing or merging. A comment from Mary Jo DuvaIl’s article in the Criterion (the Indianapolis Archdiocese Catholic newspaper): “A parish is more than a group of people attending Mass. It is a family helping each other in times of joy and sorrow.”

Have these parishes been given a choice? Have they been given an opportunity to raise the money needed to keep their parishes open? The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is giving the churches in the Batesville Deanery only 60 days until closing. Batesville was told they are “not allowed” to fight the closing of these churches. Not like the four churches in the Terre Haute area.

The Archdiocese calls the closing of the churches “connected in the spirit” and says it will help churches better carry out their mission (reaching only those that can or will attend the large churches, abandoning the small, quiet, faith-filled parishes that serve our more rural areas.)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin states the goal of the process is to help parishes “discern where God is leading the Church in Central and Southern Indiana and to discuss how the Archdiocese of Indianapolis should change its structure in order to carry out its mission today and in the future.”

What goals and missions are being fulfilled by the closing of these parishes? There a number of parishes that are similar in size or smaller than the parishes being closed. What does the future hold for these parishes and, more importantly, for the parishioners involved?

More and more the Archdiocese is putting its resources into the large parishes and schools and seeming to ignore the smaller ones. Are the needs of parishioners of smaller parishes less important than the needs of those attending larger churches? It would appear so. This is clearly a business decision, not one based on what is best for the people. Decisions are made from the top down, obviously the top being more important.

I can only imagine how much money will be required to build the new churches that are planned and how much people will be asked to pledge. It seems the Archdiocese will profit from the closures in two ways. Since the properties are owned by the Archdiocese, not by the people who helped build and support them over the years, the monies from sales will go to Indianapolis. When the two new churches are built, money will have to be borrowed from the Archdiocese and paid back with interest from the same people who just had their churches taken away.

Myself and other parishioners I have talked to from closed parishes have found different ways with their weekly givings. I've found that Boys Town, Riley Hospital, St. Jude Children's Hospital and the local food bank are very thankful for our gifts. The group making these decisions thinks these closings will bring in more money? It has only served to disillusion the many parishioners who then send their dollars elsewhere.

I guess all this commotion has had a least one positive outcome. We, the parishioners of Holy Rosary Parish in Seelyville, have come to realize, even more, how much we love being a part of a small parish. Small in size, big in faith. Faith in Our Lord, faith in each other.

As Friends of Holy Rosary, we feel so strongly about keeping our small church that we have raised money to help maintain the property and to hire a Vatican lawyer to defend us against closure. Our parishioners continue to meet weekly to pray the rosary. Our eyes have been opened to the distress within the Church across the nation and of the importance of our faith; in large boisterous churches as well as small quiet ones.

Each one has a place in our faith lives. Each separate, yet one. We are many parts, we are all one body.

— Bernard J. Bray

Terre Haute

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