Bishop struggles with change in Camden diocese

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Since Camden Bishop Joseph Galante began merging South Jersey parishes three years ago in what has become a model for dioceses nationwide, Mass attendance has fallen substantially, according to data provided by the diocese.

In the fall of 2006, a year and a half before Galante announced that he planned to reduce the number of parishes by more than a third, the annual fall Mass count was 114,000 parishioners. Last fall, the count dropped below 100,000 in the diocese, which stretches across southern New Jersey.

"Yes, it's disappointing," Galante said Tuesday. "But the diminution in Mass attendance didn't happen overnight, and I don't expect that overnight it will suddenly recover."

A former undersecretary at the Vatican, Galante has made the issue of helping parishes overcome a priest shortage and falling attendance his signature mission since taking over the Camden Diocese in late 2004. In his first year, he went out to the churches, sometimes visiting four in a week, and concluded that downsizing was the only option.


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