NORWICH – Following what has been a tumultuous seven months for many Catholic parishioners in Norwich, there has been an official decision that their parishes need each other to weather changing religious and societal climates, both locally and beyond.
Last night the joint Parish Council of St. Bartholomew’s and St. Paul’s, with roughly 40 citizens in attendance, accepted a final proposal that brings the churches under the umbrella of “The Roman Catholic Community of Norwich.” The proposal, which will eventually be sent to the Diocese of Syracuse for approval next month, stresses that St. Paul’s and St. Bart’s (now called St. Paul Church and St. Bartholomew Church, respectively) will retain their individual structural, cultural and demographic identities.
However, the plan also states that both congregations are needed to collaboratively handle a pressing dilemma facing this community: an downturn in the local economy and Catholic population, that’s combined with a national and diocese-wide shortage of priests. It’s a challenge some argue neither parish can handle alone. “Our Catholic community is bigger than any one church,” the proposal states, which is officially referred to as the pastoral plan. “Our common mission must be accomplished effectively by collaborating with each other, while retaining the unique character and faith heritages of each church family.”