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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Letters were read at all Saturday afternoon and evening masses throughout the six-county Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

The letters from Bishop David Zubik focused on a new reorganization plan for the Diocese. Zubik said change is on the way, but except for the transfer of priests and new mass time schedules to be announced later this summer, there will be no closings of churches or church buildings this year.

“What I think will hit people most right now will be the transfer of their priest. Now, they’ll still have them for six months, but I think that’s when the initial change is gonna come. That’s gonna be the most immediate change that they see on the horizon, the change of their priest,” Zubik told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti.

The actual Diocese changes — including mergers and the inevitable church closures — will come over the next few years after the current 188 parishes are reduced to just 57 multi-site parishes.

Those newer and fewer so-called “multi-site parishes” will be comprised of the smaller, competing parishes.

PRESS CONFERENCE PART 1:

 

“I realize that such transformation is rarely easy, especially in heartfelt matters of faith and parish life,” Zubik said.

At an afternoon press conference at St. Paul Seminary, Bishop Zubik said the massive Diocesan-wide reorganization was due to decline in mass attendance, the shortage of clergy, and population shifts.

Parish groupings consisting of priests, deacons and lay people, will decide on mergers and which church buildings will best serve the new parish.

Amy Wadas’ Report:

The Bishop hopes the reorganization will help revitalize and bring the faithful back to church.

“Give them some invitation to be more hospitable. I’m not exactly sure that we’ve done the best job over the course of the years of being very hospitable, and I think there is something about when larger numbers of people come together that there’s a greater sense of life,” Zubik said. “We have to look for programs that are going to be reaching out to every age group, especially for our young folks.”

All the new changes – including the maximum number of Saturday vigils and Sunday masses – will take effect in October.

PRESS CONFERENCE PART 2:

 

St. Stanislaus church-goers had mixed feelings about what’s ahead.

“Change is never popular, not with things like this,” Stephanie Valetich, of Moon Township, said. “People are used to their parishes and priests.”

“I think the church is doing what is has to to keep the faith growing and to keep people together,” Cynthia Jackson, who recently moved back to Pittsburgh, said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We were all expecting it.”

You can find the list of final parish groupings and more information here: diopitt.org/groupings-by-parish