Northwest Iowa — Officials with the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City have unveiled a restructuring plan that would greatly reduce the number of parishes across its 24-county region in northwest Iowa.
That’s Father Brent Lingle, the Director of Pastoral Planning for the diocese. There are currently 108 parishes in the Sioux City Diocese and, under the draft proposal, 41 parishes would be closed or merged by 2025. The 67 parishes that remain would be grouped into 31 “clusters” and Lingle says the dwindling number of available priests is one reason these changes are necessary.
In addition, according to Father Lingle, attendance at mass in the parishes in Sioux City’s Diocese has dropped by 27 percent since 2008.
One of those parishes changed to oratory status, according to the plan, would be St. Mary’s at Ashton.
Father Lingle says even with the closures, no Catholic in the northwest Iowa diocese would have to drive more than 20 minutes to get to a church.
Nine of the 31 new “clusters” of parishes would focus on Hispanic association ministry. Many priests in the diocese have been working 80 hours a week. Under this new arrangement, the average work week for a priest would be 55 hours and no priest would conduct more than three masses in a weekend. Meetings will be held throughout the Sioux City Diocese this spring and summer to discuss the proposed closures. The changes would begin in the summer of 2017.
For more information on the Diocesan proposal, visit the Sioux City Diocese website.