PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Parishioners in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh can expect more mergers and even more closures, but according to Bishop David Zubik, congregations will have more of a say.

“One of the words out there is like, ‘Why is he making us go through all this when he’s already made all those decisions?” said Bishop Zubik. “Not true.”

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Bishop Zubik says he is aware of the pain caused when a church closes. As many as 15 parishes are looking at their futures, but they will participate in the process of deciding their fate.

For example St. Albert the Great in Baldwin, St. Norbert in Overbrook, St. Basil and St. Wendelin in Carrick are looking at plans to merge into one parish while keeping all existing buildings open.

A plan in the Crafton area would merge into one parish, but keep only two of four buildings open.

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The options, according to parishioner Crystal Boehm at St. Philip in Crafton, are better than a blanket decree from church hierarchy.

“Absolutely,” she says, “because now we have a voice, and you wouldn’t want to isolate and alienate anybody and that’s sort of what I’m all for.”

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Bishop Zubik says, “While our numbers might be a little bit smaller for any number of reasons, the reality is I want to see more and more people fired up about their faith. And that’s the bottom line of why I think it’s imperative that we do this, and why I’ve initiated this process, and hope that everybody can see it from that perspective.”

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Some of the ad hoc consolidation decisions could be made as early as this summer. But the bigger picture decisions will be reviewed by the Bishop in 2017 and make his decisions in 2018.