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“We are emerging from a long period of history in which the responsibility for the mission of the church was projected to be primarily that of the clergy and religious, with little or no lay involvement, at least in leadership roles. The clergy and religious, in other words, have been perceived as exercising the main responsibility for the life, work, and mission of the church, and the role of the laity has consistently been relegated to pitching in or to helping out on a temporary standby basis when father, sister, or brother needed assistance in fulfilling that responsibility that was basically and essentially theirs. . . However, with the ‘people of God’ concept so well articulated by the Second Vatican Council, we have come to appreciate more fully that if the Gospel of Jesus is to be seriously taken at all, then it must be taken seriously by all. Thus, the council pointed out that the responsibility for the life and mission of the church is a responsibility whose dimensions are universal, applying to clergy, religious, and laity alike. All are bound together by a variety of gifts and ministries and all are called to serve the one mission, the mission of Jesus, to be served by a multiplicity of ministries and ministers.”

Fulfilling the Vision

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard



Background

On November 21, 1964, Catholic Bishops from all over the world ratified “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” one of the first documents approved at the Second Vatican Council. They boldly proclaimed:

“Henceforward the church, equipped with the gifts of its founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and is, on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom (Para 5).”

They then went on to restore the first century understanding of the “Body of Christ” by proclaiming that the mission and ministry of Jesus was the responsibility of all of the baptized who in turn are commissioned to:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”
The prophetic statement of Vatican Council II was made at a time when Christian Churches were being confronted by an increasingly secular world and more and more people were questioning the relevance of Jesus and his Church in their lives. Many American Bishops throughout the country recognized that the changing paradigm required effective pastoral planning for the future to implement the provisions of the Second Vatican Council, especially the empowering of the laity to share in the mission and ministry of Jesus (See the quotation from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church on the top of the Communications page).

The Diocese of Albany is continuing the work of the Council with a greater sense of urgency than ever. We are asking all Catholics in our diocese , while grounded in prayer and focused only upon our brother Jesus Christ, to rise up and accept the challenge of “Called to BE Church.”

For more information about Vatican Council II, the works written by of our bishop and other authors, click on the Reference Materials page.

General Time Table

The general Time Table will be modified as needed.

1. Pre-Planning Readiness Phase:

In October and November of 2006 each parish, local planning group, and deanery will be hosting general dialogue sessions pertaining to mission and ministry. These meetings are designed to open the lines of communication between groups in the diocese and start the gradual unfolding of the pastoral processing plan. Between September and December 2006 several other tasks will be performed, including process design, development of resources, engaging leadership, training of facilitators, and selection of the Local Planning Group members.

2. Planning Discussions and Recommendations Phase for Local Planning Groups and Deaneries:

January 2007 to June 2008 (18 months) - Discussions will occur regarding “What does it mean to be church today?” and “What do we need to do (recommendations) to insure that the mission and ministry of Jesus is a lived reality throughout the Albany Diocese?”

3. Review by Diocese of Recommendations from the Local Planning Groups:

July through December 2008.

4. Announcement of Decisions by Bishop:

January 2009

5. Implementation of Plans Begin:

January 2009 and continuing.



Albany Diocese Announces Final Decisions of 2 ½-year
Called to BE Church Process

After 2 ½ years, more than 600 meetings, input from more than 10,000 Catholics across the Albany Diocese, and prayerful consideration, the final decisions of the Diocese’s planning process have been reached.

The decisions are being announced to parishioners during Masses on Jan. 17 and 18, 2009.

The grassroots planning process, known as Called to BE Church, involved thousands of Catholics across the Diocese in shaping the future of the church — specifically, aligning its physical, financial and personnel resources in a way that would serve the greatest number of Catholics now and in the future, while preserving the Church’s commitment to inner cities, the poor, elderly and infirm, and other vulnerable populations. Thirty-eight local planning groups (comprised of parish leaders and lay parishioners-representatives from two or more neighboring parishes) studied issues on a neighborhood and regional level across the 14 counties of the Diocese.

“There’s no question that the closing of parishes is a difficult and painful process for the people of the parish, for which there is a great spiritual and emotional attachment. All of the people involved in this process empathize with the painful adjustments that will be required,” said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard.

“In fact, my own home parish of St. Patrick’s in Troy will be closing —the church where I grew up, went to school, celebrated my first Mass as a priest of the Diocese, and buried my parents. But we as a church must acknowledge the social and demographic trends that require change, and remember our Church must adapt, just as our ancestors’ Church adapted to rapid changes in society throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Catholics Move to the Suburbs

The changes in parish alignment are driven by the following:

  • Most cities across the Albany Diocese have lost between 25 and 39 percent of their populations since 1960 (with the notable exception of Saratoga Springs);

  • Suburban areas have grown by 50 percent or more during that time;

  • There are likely to be fewer than 100 Diocesan priests serving 132 parishes within 5 years. In the 1960s, there were approximately 400 priests in the Diocese;

Many of the multiple urban and ethnic parishes built in the early 20th century only a few blocks from each other in cities are now under-used because of population shifts. For example, across six urban churches in Troy (with a total seating capacity of 3,200) the combined weekend Mass attendance totals about 1,300 — the same number at a single parish in Ballston Spa or Glenville.

Some Churches to Close, Others to Merge

In total, 33 worship sites will close across the Diocese over a three-year period, through the end of 2011. (“Church,” as the term is used in this news release, means a building in which Catholics worship. “Parish” refers to the geographic area or population served by a church or churches. A parish may include one or more churches or worship sites.) Virtually all of the recommendations of the local planning groups with respect to the future of their local churches were adopted in the final decisions.

In Albany, two churches will close as they merge with two others. In Troy, six churches will close. In Schenectady, two churches will close and two others will merge into one. In Cohoes and Amsterdam each, three churches will close. One church will close in Glens Falls.

Even after parish closings and mergers, the number of parishes in the urban areas will be greater than in the suburbs. For example, Clifton Park has a general population of approximately 36,000 people with one parish. In Troy, the population approximates 47,000 people yet the city will have seven parishes remaining, following the closure of the six parishes just announced. The City of Schenectady will have nine parishes for a population of approximately 61,000 people. The City of Cohoes will have two parishes for approximately 15,000 residents. Amsterdam will have three parishes for a general population of approximately 18,000 people and Albany will have 10 parishes remaining for a general population of 94,000.

“The Called to BE Church plan provides a blueprint for the most prudent use of the resources that have been entrusted to us and a clear statement of our continued commitment to meeting the spiritual and human needs of residents of our cities,” Bishop Hubbard said.

Planning for the future of parishes is happening in dioceses across the state and across the Northeast. The Dioceses of Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo have closed between 20 and 30 percent of their churches. Through Called to BE Church, the Albany Diocese will close just under 20 percent of its existing worship sites.

Throughout the Diocese, the Called to BE Church final decisions are as follows:

Albany County

In the City of Albany:

  • St. John’s/St. Ann’s and St. James will merge by July 1, 2010, with both worship sites to remain open.

  • St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena will merge by October 1, 2009. St. Teresa’s worship site will close.

  • Holy Cross and St. Margaret Mary will merge by October 1, 2009.
    Holy Cross worship site will close.

  • St. Teresa’s School and Holy Cross School will merge on July 1, 2009 at the Holy Cross School site.

Elsewhere in Albany County:

  • St. Bernard’s (Cohoes) will close by February 25, 2009.

  • St. Joseph’s (Cohoes) will close by February 25, 2009.

  • St. Rita/Sacred Heart (Cohoes) will close by February 25, 2009.

  • St. Michael’s (Cohoes) to become a territorial parish, will remain open.

  • St. Bernadette’s Mission Church (Berne) to close by December 31, 2010.


Columbia County

  • St. Mary’s (Hudson) and Resurrection (Germantown) will merge by July 1, 2009, with both to remain open.

  • St. John Vianney (Claverack) and St. Bridget’s (Copake Falls) will share a pastor, and conduct feasibility study on possible merger and worship site.
    The findings of the feasibility study are to be submitted to the diocese by
    December 31, 2009.

  • Nativity/St. Mary’s (Stuyvesant Falls) and Holy Family (Stottville) will merge by December 31, 2009 with both remaining open.


Delaware County

  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Mission Church (Roxbury) will close immediately.

Fulton County

  • St. Mary of Mount Carmel (Gloversville) and Sacred Heart (Gloversville) will merge by July 1, 2009; determination of which worship site will close to be made by July 1, 2009.

  • Holy Trinity (Johnstown) to determine by July 1, 2009, which one of its three worship sites will remain open.

Greene County

  • St. Patrick’s (Catskill) to conduct feasibility study of parish facilities by December 31, 2009; At that time the diocese will revisit possible merger with St. Patrick’s (Athens).

  • Immaculate Conception (Haines Falls) and Sacred Heart (Palenville) will merge by July 1 ,2009, with both to remain open.

Montgomery County

  • St. Casimir’s (Amsterdam) to close by May 3, 2009.

  • St. John the Baptist (Amsterdam) to close February 25, 2009.

  • St. Michael’s worship site (Amsterdam) to close by February 25, 2009.

  • Sts. Peter & Paul (Canajoharie), St. James (Fort Plain) and St. Patrick’s (St. Johnsville) to merge by July 1, 2009. Recommendations on worship site(s) to be submitted to the diocese by July 1, 2010.

Otsego County

  • Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mission Church (Edmeston) to close by July 1, 2009.

  • St. Mary’s Mission Church (Sharon Springs) to close by December 31, 2009.

  • Blessed Sacrament Mission Church (Springfield Center) to close by
    October 18, 2009.

  • St. Thomas (Cherry Valley) to become mission church of St. Mary’s (Cooperstown) by July 1, 2010 with both to remain open.



Rensselaer County

In the City of Troy:

  • St. Patrick’s to close by July 1, 2010.

  • St. Peter’s to close by May 31, 2009 (Tridentine Mass will move to St. Joseph’s in Troy).

  • St. Paul the Apostle to close by May 31, 2009 (Perpetual Adoration Chapel to move to Chapel at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy).

  • St. Francis de Sales to close by February 25, 2009.

  • St. Mary’s to close by July 1, 2010.

  • St. William’s to close by February 25, 2009.

Elsewhere in Rensselaer County:

  • St. Joseph’s/St. John’s (Rensselaer) will determine one worship site for parish by July 1 2009, with other worship site to close by July 1, 2010.

  • St. Bonaventure (Speigletown) and Holy Trinity (Schaghticoke) to merge by July 1, 2010, with both remaining open.

  • St. John Francis Regis (Grafton) and Sacred Heart (Berlin) will merge By September 1, 2009, with both remaining open.

  • St. George Mission Church (Pittstown) to close by July 1, 2009.


Saratoga County

  • Assumption/St. Paul (Mechanicville) will determine one worship site by July 1, 2009.

Schenectady County

  • Our Lady of Assumption (Rotterdam) and Immaculate Conception (Schenectady) will merge by July 1 2010; Immaculate Conception worship site to close by January 1, 2011.

  • St. John the Baptist (Schenectady) to close by February 25, 2009.

  • St. Mary’s (Schenectady) to close by July 1, 2009.

  • St. Margaret of Cortona (Rotterdam Junction) will become a mission church of St. Joseph’s (Schenectady) by July 1, 2009.

Schoharie County

  • St. Joseph’s (Schoharie) and St. Catherine’s (Middleburgh) to merge by July 1, 2009. St. Joseph’s worship site to close by July 1, 2009.

  • St. Mary’s Mission Church (Schenevus) to close by February 25, 2009.

  • St. Anna’s (Summit) to close by July 1, 2009.


Warren County

  • St. Alphonsus (Glens Falls) will close by July 1, 2010.

  • Immaculate Conception (Corinth) and Holy Infancy (Lake Luzerne) will merge by July 1, 2009 with both to remain open.

  • St. John the Baptist (Chestertown) and Blessed Sacrament (Hague) will merge by December 31, 2009, with both to remain open.

Washington County

  • St. Joseph’s (Fort Edward) and St. Mary’s/St. Paul’s (Hudson Falls) will share a pastor in July, 2010, with both remaining open.

  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Granville) will close by April 13, 2009.