The Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids has released plans to merge and close some of its churches. The diocese includes 99 churches in 11 West Michigan counties.
“Every Parish is in one way or the other affected," said Bishop Walter Hurley. He approved the restructuring plan that's been three years in the making. It’s supposed to help the diocese face future challenges, like changing populations, a growing Hispanic community, and fewer clergy.
“Right now we’re not at a crisis point but what we do need to know as we look to the future, now what happens if we don’t have a pastor assigned to this Parrish or this Parrish," Hurley said.
Hurley says a few churches in more rural areas up north have already closed. Another handful will close as priests retire. Others will merge together. Hurley says the plan is a living document and subject to change. The Diocese of Grand Rapids isn’t the only one grappling with fewer priests.
There's no set timeline for when many changes will take place, but they're expected over several years.
You can find the full approved "Our Faith, Our Future" plan here.