In the Catholic Post, it states the face of the Diocese of Peoria will change July l when the first stage of major parish reorganization resulting from the ongoing “GROWING In Faith Together” takes effect. You have to wonder what is going to happen in the second stage, or the third or fourth stage.
Instead of “GROWING in Faith Together,” I see in many areas parishioners “LOSING their Faith Together.” When I was the ADA director years ago, we had 198 Catholic churches in the Diocese of Peoria; now I find that we have only 158 Catholic churches in the Diocese, and that is not counting the losses when the churches merge.
When I was the ADA director for St. Thomas More in Dalzell, we had 128 families that attended our church. After closing our church and re-opening it a year later, there are not more than 20 families that attend St. Thomas More Catholic Church today. Many families were disheartened because of what happened to our church and quit going to church or went to protestant churches in the area.
St. Benedict’s in Ladd was closed like St. Thomas More in Dalzell, and now Ladd has no church to go to since St. Benedict’s has been torn down and the decision to sell the church hall is pending.
I also hear many who belong to the “Knights of Columbus” have quit that organization too. As of July 1, 2014, we, too, will be merged with Holy Trinity Church in Cherry. We may be merged, but people in Dalzell will not travel many more miles to go to Cherry, when they can go to St. Bede or St. Joseph’s in Peru. St. Bede is just 1.5 miles down the road from Dalzell.
We are trying to tell Father Pat Fixsen who now has to travel to Dalzell from Cherry and then has to travel to Arlington, along with serving Holy Trinity in Cherry, that we would be satisfied not merging and to continue what he presently does, giving us the opportunity to fulfill our religious duties.
I also read where the Spring Valley churches will be merged into The Nativity of Our Lord Church (really what is St. Anthony’s presently). I see nothing wrong with Father Robert Spilman handling all the masses in the other churches in Spring Valley — Sts. Peter and Paul and The Immaculate Conception, like Father Pat Fixsen who has to travel to Dalzell and Arlington. Father Spilman will not have to travel to other towns because all the churches are in one town — Spring Valley.
If one priest in Milwaukee, Wis., services seven churches and Father Pat Fixsen has to travel to Dalzell and Arlington, then Father Spilman can handle the three churches in Spring Valley, and those churches will not have to closed or sold eventually.
I really feel mergers through “GROWING in Faith Together” is going to be a disaster. Will the mergers of the churches into one church, destroy the other churches that have been in operation for many, many years?