A number of Roman Catholic churches in the Diocese of Saint John in Canada have announced its permanent closure or merger with other churches. The move is a necessity as Bishop Robert Harris declared it's no longer practical to keep the churches in operation.
Nine churches will close by September in the regions of Saint John (5 churches), Fredericton (1 church) and Miramichi (3 small mission churches). Harris told CBC News that the closure would set fort the reorganization of the diocese that will eventually bring the number of parishes down from 58 to 27 by September 2019.
Some 31 priests will also divide their time and resources in maintaining 70 churches that will remain open. In total, the downsizing will affect 35 percent of the diocese.
"I don't take any pleasure in closing churches," Bishop Robert Harris said. "[But] they're going to have to look at employees and see how much money they need," he added and stated that parishes that cannot be maintained financially might still be downsized in the coming months.
Harris, however, believes that the transition will help revitalize the church. There are also ongoing dialogues in his office among those who will be affected by the changes. Ann Barrett, who has been going to the same church for three decades, told reporters it's not going to be an easy transition.
"The church meant so much," Barrett said in another CBC News report. "Baptisms, marriages, just so many things have happened here," she added.
One church site that holds the only Latin mass in the diocese will also close. People from distant places specifically visit the Holy Trinity Catholic Church because of the Latin services but that will no longer happen come September. Devotees Rebecca Procure and Jamey Guerrero, who drive to town once a month attend the Latin mass, told reporters that they are hoping another church will adopt the practice.