Diocese of Youngstown Announces Next Stage in Pastoral Plan

NEWS RELEASE

January 21, 2024

Contact: Dennis Biviano, Public Relations and Media Specialist (330) 744-8451, ext. 320; dbiviano@youngstowndiocese.org

Diocese of Youngstown Announces Next Stage in the Pastoral Plan:
Bishop Bonnar accepts recommendations for new parish mergers

The Most Reverend David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown announces a new stage in the diocese’s pastoral planning process for its parishes, which comes after ongoing consultation with the Diocesan Presbyteral Council (constituted by priests), most recently on January 12, 2024. On January 12, the Diocesan Presbyteral Council met to review the progress of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, which was promulgated by the late Bishop George Murry in 2019 and has continued to be developed since the 2021 installation of Bishop David Bonnar. The regional plan for the six-county Diocese of Youngstown has resulted in structural changes aimed at developing effective ministries and supporting missionary activity. Criteria include the number of parishioners and worshipers, parish finances, population shifts within the region, effective use of buildings and effective use of a limited number of priests and lay ecclesial ministers. As a result of the pastoral plan, almost all of the diocese’s 80 parishes are now part of a collaborative unit or exist as a multi-site parish. Since 2021, as a result of recommendations to Bishop Bonnar, there have been five instances of merger between parishes (where two or more parishes become one parish community).

At its January 12 meeting, the Diocesan Presbyteral Council formally recommended that Bishop Bonnar merge additional parishes throughout the diocese who are already working together in ministry partnerships—sharing priests, deacons, diocesan pastoral associates, additional personnel, Mass schedules, and various parish programs and activities. This recommendation is in line with continuing the efforts of the Diocesan Regionalization Plan that began several years ago. Bishop Bonnar has accepted this recommendation and notified the relevant pastors and parishes to develop plans for parish mergers. These newly merged parishes will be aligned with the structure of other multi-site parishes in the diocese, with Masses and other parish activities continuing to be offered in multiple churches and campuses while ensuring more efficient operations. Bishop Bonnar comments, “I am grateful to the Presbyteral Council for making this important recommendation, which will help ease the burden of pastors who currently need to oversee the administration of separate entities and attend multiple sets of meetings, including parish pastoral councils, finance councils, and parish staff. The time is right for these particular parishes to come together and form one community. We are better when we are together.”

The following parishes will begin the process of preparing for parish merger:

Ashtabula Deanery:

         ● Orwell, St. Mary Parish, and Rock Creek, Sacred Heart Parish

Mahoning Deanery:

●  Austintown, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and St. Joseph Parish
●  Boardman, St. Charles Parish and St. Luke Parish
●  Youngstown, St. Columba Cathedral Parish, St. Edward Parish and Holy Apostles Parish

Portage Deanery: 

Mogadore, St. Joseph Parish, and Rootstown, St. Peter of the Fields Parish

Stark Deanery:

●  Canton, St. Peter Parish, and the Basilica of St. John the Baptist
●  Canton, St. Joan of Arc Parish and St. Joseph Parish

Trumbull Deanery:

●  Niles, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and St. Stephen Parish
●  Warren, Blessed Sacrament Parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish and St. Mary and St. Joseph Parish 

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