The Diocese of Columbus plans to close 20 percent, one out of every five, of its parishes next summer.

The 23-county Diocese of Columbus plans to close nearly 20% of its churches—19 of 105. Eleven of them are in Franklin County, which has about half of the diocese’s churches now.

The plans have not yet been finalized, and the diocese is still accepting feedback.

The closures would be on par with national trends. [Not trends in Steubenville, though.]

The Catholic Church is closing parishes across the country as the number of people willing to work as priests decreases and attendance dwindles. [Columbus has more than twice as many Catholics per priest as Steubenville. We do not presently have the same priest shortage problem that they do.]

There are fewer active priests than there are churches in the Columbus diocese.

This is the Diocese that Bishop Monforton intends to shunt us into. Bishop Monforton insisted in the Steubenville Register early last week that “this does not mean the closing of parishes or schools,” but as I and others have said multiple times and places, HE CANNOT PROMISE THAT, the numbers do not support that assertion, and now we have evidence that “closing parishes” is exactly what the Diocese of Columbus has in mind as they face their priest shortage.

Once priests are taken from the former Diocese of Steubenville to fill gaps in the rest of the Diocese of Columbus, how will our parishes stay open?

Here in Steubenville, Wintersville, and Mingo we have St. Peter, Holy Rosary, Holy Family, Blessed Sacrament, and St. Agnes. Which of those five should be closed? That’s what we’re talking about here. Would Holy Rosary and Holy Family merge? In a geographic sense that makes the most sense — unless St. Peter is closed because it has the smallest population of Catholics living within walking distance. Or close St. Agnes since the population of Mingo is tiny, and just force those Catholics to drive up to Steubenville.

Which of those makes the most sense? Well, that’s what we’d face should the merger go through.

Bishop Monforton has insisted that no parishes will close, while all evidence is against that assertion.