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July 15, 2006



It would seem to me that earlier clarification on this matter would have saved a lot of heartache in the Toledo diocese. The diocese closed/merged several (over 15) parishes in 2005. Parishes that had financial assets were closed and their money went to the diocese. Parishes that had debt were merged and the nearby parishes that they were "twinned" with assumed their debt. To the parishes that had assets, it seemed like a "stick up without a gun."


Well, that explains a lot. And it's so needless, because other dioceses kept the money and stuff with the amalgam parishes.

Praying for my bishop

Well, well, WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.... doesn't THAT put a lot of the land and money grabs over the last few years in a different light?
We have a struggling "merged" parish near us that may be coming into a fair bit of change, methinks.
The fact that I don't like the way the diocese went about this and seemed wrong at the time makes this a bittersweet realization.

Tim Ferguson

Amy, another example of a parish that could properly be suppressed would be a personal parish - such as ethnic parishes - once very common. If there is no significant need for a French parish, say, in a diocese, it could either be converted to a territorial parish, or suppressed.

There are canonists who would argue that a territorial parish could never be suppressed, because, unless the territory of the parish has been entirely denuded of residents, some pastor should have the care of their souls (and remember, a pastor's care should properly extend not only to the Catholics within his parish boundaries, but to all those living there...).

TM Lutas

Tim Ferguson - You may find this to be on point. Some parts of the US are emptying out and it's not just the Great Plains. The article in the link talks about 1 frontier county in NY State. I think at this point, it's two.

Tim Ferguson

Fascinating stuff, TM. I live in the suburbs of Detroit and work downtown. Due to a number of issues (racial, economic, employment and the high level of taxation) whole neighborhoods of Detroit are emptying out again and becoming prarie-like, this blog documents. The population of Detroit, once America's fourth-largest city, has been halved since 1950. In some areas, wild animals have been spotted - there were reports last year of deer, and one unconfirmed report of a wolverine, within the city borders. The landscape of our country is truly undergoing some major changes!

Back to the topic though, one of my canon law professors once said that the entire planet is criss-crossed with the imaginary lines of parish boundaries so that anywhere someone might be, they have their proper pastor, even if he be a thousand miles away.


How readily available is parish boundary information to layfolks? In the days of the Internet, is there any reason diocese cannot make that information readily available via their websites? Why the mystery?



I know that some dioceses, like the ArchDiocese of Philadelphia, do have the information on their website. BUT, I found it unusable, because there were no maps involved.


Do the church buildings belong to the parish or the diocese?


Tim Ferguson

MCG, that's the point at issue. Canonically, the buildings belong to the parish, though the parish is not free to dispose of or alter them without permission of the bishop (beyond a certain point, that is. A parish can fix the railing on the ramp without permission, but can't, say, remove the altar). That's canon law. In civil law, different dioceses organized parishes differently, and sometimes there's a conflict between canon law and civil law.

Liam, I don't know if it's kept secret on purpose - if you contact your diocese for a map, they'll likely provide it, or if you talk to your local friendly pastor and ask him for the parish boundaries, he should be able to give you the info. I think the maps aren't generally publicized because territorial parishes are not on most people's radar: they go where they want to go. Plus, the maps themselves can tend to be a bit unwieldy, considering the size of most dioceses and the number of parishes.


FYI -- check out the link above for a story about this topic.


OK, the link didn't post -- here it is on the toledo diocese:


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