CHENANGO COUNTY – Catholics throughout Chenango County will learn what’s to become of their eight churches this afternoon when the Diocese of Syracuse announces reconfiguration plans for its Southern region today.
During what has been a landmark initiative that officially began in March 2006, the diocese has already slated over 25 churches to be merged or closed in areas surrounding Syracuse and Utica. Other parishes have been converted into missions.
The diocese-wide consolidations are a result of declining priest populations, low congregation numbers and weakening economies, church officials have repeatedly said.
Locally, pastors and parishioners are ready to find out where they stand – hopeful it will all work out.
“God has a plan,” said Father Thomas Ward, the pastor for St. Joseph’s in Oxford and the Immaculate Conception in Greene. “We’ll see where we stand and we’ll go forward with the future.”
Chenango County – one of the 32 Pastoral Care Areas in the diocese that were asked to submit reconfiguration plans by Thanksgiving – proposed two solutions that would allow its eight parishes to be run by two fewer priests, taking the number from five to three. Considered in the plan – St. Theresa’s in New Berlin, St. Agnes in Afton, St. John’s in Bainbridge, Immaculate Conception in Greene, St. Joseph’s in Oxford, St. Paul’s in Norwich, St. Bartholomew’s in Norwich, and St. Malachy’s in Sherburne.