WINONA, Minn. -- Fewer priests and shifting demographics across southern Minnesota will result in merged Catholic parishes and shuttered church buildings in coming years.continue at La Crosse Tribune
“Nearly half of our parishes have received recommended organizational change as a result of the draft plan,” Msgr. Richard Colletti, vicar general and director of planning for the Diocese of Winona said in a prepared statement.
A proposed reorganization plan — Vision 2016 — was announced during weekend Masses in all parishes of the Diocese of Winona. The planning process began in 2011 and is to be finalized by spring 2016.
The draft plan calls for 21 of the smallest parishes to be merged with larger parishes nearby. Their church buildings will be converted to “oratory” status — meaning they will not be the site of regular celebrations of the Mass, but that Catholic weddings, funerals, prayer services and other liturgical events may be held there as long as it is feasible to maintain the building.
Locally, parish churches in Altura, Dakota, Elba, Lanesboro, Minneiska, Minnesota City and Wilson are proposed to become oratories. The parish membership will merge with parishes in Rollingstone, La Crescent, St. Charles, Preston, and St. Stanislaus in Winona.