Priest shortage in Michigan hits local parishes
There's a shortage of priests in southwest Michigan right now. That has the local bishop making some tough decisions.
The Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo will assign priests to serve multiple parishes, allowing them to keep churches open while dealing with the issue.
The Bishop met with a local church Monday night to talk about changes.
Hundreds of people showed up at Saint Joseph and Bernard Parish in Benton
Harbor to hear firsthand about changes coming to their congregation.
"Trying to re-organize a bit so we have the priests that are available to us being positioned, as well as, possibly to provide Pastoral care for the people," said Bishop Paul Bradley.
Bishop Bradley says these changes are happening because there are only 55 priests to cover 59 parishes. They're also facing an increase in retirements and fewer young men becoming ordained priests.
"Within those there might be two or three parishes grouped together. So that means one pastor will have responsibility for more than one parish. Two likely and in many cases three," said Bishop Bradley.
Some church members are thankful the problem is be addressed.
"So to me it was like I'm glad they are taking a proactive stand on this because this is something had to be done," said church member, Ed Nickel.
But with new changes comes new concerns.
"Oh everybody is concerned there is going to be changes," Nickels said. "Some people are going to lose their priest some people are going to lose their regular mass time so everyone is going to have to change."
It takes about six years to become an ordained Catholic priest.
That means Catholic churches could be facing these issues for the next 15 to 20 years.
Priests will get their new assignments around Easter. They'll start their new schedule on July 1st.
Here's a list of churches in Michigan that will be grouped together with one priest underthe changes:
St. Anthony, Buchanan
St. Gabriel, Berrien Springs
Our Lady Queen of Peace, Bridgman
St. Mary of the Lake, New Buffalo
St. Mary's Assumption, Three Oaks
St. Agnes, Sawyer
St. Joseph, St. Joseph
Lake Michigan Catholic
St. Mary, Niles
St. Mark, Niles
Holy Maternity of Mary, Dowagiac
Sacred Heart of Mary, Silver Creek
St. Margaret Mary, Marcellus
Our Lady of the Lake, Edwardsburg
St. Ann, Cassopolis
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY
Holy Angels, Sturgis
St. Joseph, White Pigeon
Immaculate Conception, Three Rivers
St. Clare, Centreville
St. Barbara, Colon
St. Martin of Tours, Vicksburg
St. Edward, Medon
VAN BUREN COUNTY
St. Joseph, Watervliet
Immaculate Conception, Hartford
St. Mary, Paw Paw
Holy Family, Decatur
St. John Bosco, Mattawan
St. Basil, South Haven
Sacret Heart, Bangor
St. Jude, Gobles