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Evansville, Indiana
January 3, 1997     The Message
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January 3, 1997

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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Dodge Diocese unveils plan for reducing parishes and forming By TIM WENZL Catholic News Service DODGE CITY, Kan. (CNS)- Through mergers and consoli- dation, the 57 parishes of the Dodge City Diocese will be reduced to 41 during a restruc- turing period that will be imple- mented between 1997 and 2005, Bishop Stanley G. Schlarman of Dodge City announced. The first phase of the plan becomes effective in July 1, 1997. It is designed to allow a sliding implementation to meet the needs of shifting population, viability of parishes and avail- ability of priests, Bishop Schlar- man explained in his promulga- tion of the plan, published Dec. 8 in the diocesan Southwest Kansas Register. It calls for 41 parishes to be Parish Staffing -- past, present and future From the editor: A major accomplishment of the Diocese of Evansville in 1996 was the release of recommendations for future parish staffing, completed by a task force after 18 months of study and analysis. After studying such factors as the age of the priests serv- ing the diocese, the number of ordinations in recent years and the number of seminarians, task force members arrived at a projection for the near future, In the year 2005, they said, there will be 44 priests avail- able to serve the 73 parishes of the diocese. That's about half of the number serving today. Each of the seven deaneries in the diocese will be making plans based on the task force recommendations, The Wash- ington Deanery is the first to move ahead with planning, anticipating that the current number of eight priests will drop to four in 2005. The Evansville East Deanery will be making plans in early 1997, to cope with the anticipated changes. At present, there are 12diocesan priests and one Benedictine priest assigned to parishes in the East Dea.nery; in 2005, task force mem- bers projected six diocesan priests, one order priest and four pastoral life coordinators. A series of seven articles in the Message during 1996 pro- vided the details of what was recommended for each deanery. The Message is committed to continuing coverage of the planning process in the diocese, and to providing examples of how other dioceses are coping with similar needs. grouped into 17 pastoral units served by 24 diocesan priests. Bishop Schlarman said the plan was necessary because the Catholic population of the 28- county diocese continues to grow while the number of priests declines. Surveys were sent to each of the diocese's 13,746 Catholic households in March. Parish- ioners were asked to evaluate areas of worship, community outreach, evangelization, ecu- menism, vocations and finances. Each parish's pastoral council conducted self-studies to be used by the Presbyterial Council and the diocesan Pastoral Council. Parish cluster groups were also formed and charged with making recommendations based on the specific number of priests avail- able to each proposed cluster. Bishop Schlarman and mem- bers of the councils then held a three- day working session in November poring over the infor- mation and drafting the restruc- turing plan. Currently, each priest in the Diocese of Dodge City has to serve 1,027 parishioners in order to meet existing needs. Figures reported in The Official Catholic Directory, show a total of 34 diocesan priests active in the diocese. 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