Catholic schools, parishes could face closure in archdiocese's reorganization plan

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Catholic parishes and schools will learn on Wednesday whether they will be closed.

The Archdiocese of Chicago plans to announce on Wednesday the closing or consolidation of some schools.

Late Tuesday, the archdiocese announced some change to parishes. The changes impact Immaculate Conception Parish and School (88th Street), Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and School, Sacred Heart Parish and School (96th Street) and St. Michael Parish and School (South Shore), all in Chicago, according to a statement.

St. Michael Parish and Immaculate Conception Parish will unite to form a new parish, effective July 1, 2019. Both churches will remain active worship sites of the parish for the current time. Once the pastor is in place for the new parish, a long-term strategy for St. Michael Church and campus will be developed.

Immaculate Conception School continues with its current programming - no changes - as a ministry of the new, unified parish. St. Michael School in the South Shore neighborhood closed in June 2018 due to declining enrollment.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and School remains as it is with its current structure. Sacred Heart Croatian Parish and School also remains as it is with its current structure.

The changes are part of Cardinal Blase Cupich's "Renew My Church" initiative that aims to cut costs and address a shortage of priests.

More announcements are expected Wednesday.

The school changes, slated to go in effect for the 2019-20 school year, could impact several parishes in the city's Bridgeport and Chinatown neighborhoods.

The schools targeted include All-Saints St. Anthony, St. Barbara, St. Gabriel, St. Jerome Croatian, Santa Lucia-Santa Maria, St. Mary of Perpetual Help, Nativity of Our Lord and St. Therese Chinese Catholic

The elementary schools serving Pre-K through eighth grades are at St. Barbara, St. Jerome, Santa Lucia-Santa Maria and St. Therese. Bridgeport Catholic Academy is on the list as well.

The parishes and schools would close or be absorbed into other parishes.

"They gave us some input. They have already decided what they're going to do," said Arlene Whitehouse, a parishioner at St. Barbara's.

Cardinal Cupich did not comment about the issue on Tuesday, however Anne Maselli, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, wrote in a statement that "while difficult decisions will be made, we believed these changes are necessary to achieve the goal of having a vibrant, life-giving faith community accessible to all Catholics in the Bridgeport area."
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