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
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:
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).”
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
And behold, I am with you always, until
the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”
prophetic statement of Vatican Council II was
made at a time when
were being confronted by an increasingly secular
world and more and more people were questioning
the relevance of Jesus and his Church in their
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
Diocese of Albany is continuing the work of the
Council with a greater sense of urgency than
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.”
more information about
Council II, the works written by of our bishop
and other authors, click on the Reference
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:
4. Announcement of Decisions by Bishop:
5. Implementation of Plans Begin:
January 2009 and
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
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
“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:
across the Albany Diocese have lost between
25 and 39 percent of their populations since
1960 (with the notable exception of Saratoga
have grown by 50 percent or more during that
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
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:
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,
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.
St. Mary’s (Hudson) and Resurrection (Germantown) will merge by July 1, 2009,
with both to remain open.
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.
Mary’s (Stuyvesant Falls) and Holy
Family (Stottville) will merge by
December 31, 2009 with both remaining open.
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
Holy Trinity (Johnstown) to determine by July 1, 2009,
which one of its three worship sites will
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).
Conception (Haines Falls) and Sacred
Heart (Palenville) will merge by July 1
,2009, with both to remain open.
St. Casimir’s (Amsterdam) to close by May 3, 2009.
St. John the
Baptist (Amsterdam) to close February
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
Bonaventure (Speigletown) and Holy
Trinity (Schaghticoke) to merge by July
1, 2010, with both remaining open.
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
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.
of Cortona (Rotterdam Junction) will
become a mission church of St. Joseph’s
(Schenectady) by July 1, 2009.
St. Joseph’s (Schoharie) and St. Catherine’s
(Middleburgh) to merge by July 1, 2009.
St. Joseph’s worship site to close by July
St. Mary’s Mission Church (Schenevus) to close by
February 25, 2009.
St. Anna’s (Summit) to close by July 1, 2009.
St. Alphonsus (Glens Falls) will close by July 1,
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.
St. Joseph’s (Fort Edward) and St. Mary’s/St. Paul’s (Hudson Falls) will share a pastor in July, 2010, with both remaining
Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Granville) will close by April 13, 2009.