Though there are no closures or consolidations in the cards for Catholic churches in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills or Troy, area churches will have to begin drawing up plans for clustering or merging should the need arise.
The news was part of a Monday-afternoon announcement from Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, in which 38 of Detroit’s 267 parishes will be reduced to 18 through closures and consolidations.
The closures and mergers were initially recommended by the 25-member Archdiocese Pastoral Council (APC) in a report released Nov. 30 as a way to combat a shortage of priests and aid struggling parishes.
Parishes in the South Oakland Vicariate Planning Group 3 — made up of Birmingham’s Holy Name and St. Columban, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills, Troy’s St. Alan, St. Anastasia, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Thomas More, as well as St. Hugo of the Hills, St. Owen and St. Regis in Bloomfield Hills — were spared from the list of closures and mergers.
However, all 10 churches were directed to either develop plans for clustering or merging, in case anything happens to the pastors there or any financial problems develop.
Overall, Holy Name, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, St. Anastasia, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Hugo., St. Owen., St. Regis and St. Thomas More were directed to identify a cluster partner and develop a clustering plan no later than June 30.
The plans would include models for initial collaboration and contingency plans for programming, outreach and administration. Plans should also be made should property need to be sold.
Meanwhile, St. Columban in Birmingham and St. Alan in Troy — which has been clustered under one pastor, the Rev. Don Demmer, since 2007 — were directed to a develop a merger plan by Dec. 31. This plan should include a potential timeline for implementation.
However, the APC report did note that the South Oakland group of parishes were stable in both population and finances, and — in the case of St. Columban and St. Alan — it would be up to both parishes to determine whether a full merger is appropriate.
The comprehensive list of closures and mergers can be found on the archdiocese website, www.aodonline.org.