Catholics will see new priests in the pulpit this weekend in Archdiocese of Cincinnati

·3 min read
People sit before the celebration of Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Cincinnati.
People sit before the celebration of Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Cincinnati.

Thousands of Catholics will see a new priest in the pulpit this weekend as a major reorganization of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati moves forward.

Almost all of the archdiocese's 150 priests will be affected in some way by the reorganization, known as Beacons of Light, and at least half of them will begin new roles at new parishes on July 1. To see the full list, scroll to the bottom of the story.

The shuffling of jobs is the latest step in a process that is remaking the archdiocese's parishes and schools in response to changing demographics, shrinking church attendance and a continuing priest shortage.

Under Beacons of Light, the archdiocese's 208 parishes now are part of 5760 "families of parishes" that will share priests, schools and resources. In the next few years, the new parish families will rework Mass schedules, create new parish councils and decide whether to close churches and schools.

The reorganization is one of the largest in the region's history and will in some way impact every Catholic priest, parishioner and student in the archdiocese, which stretches across 19 counties in western and southern Ohio.

Before this weekend, most of the coming changes have been visible only on spreadsheets and color-coded maps circulated by the archdiocese. Now, with the new parish families model officially in place, Catholics will see those changes in the pulpit as their new priests begin work.

"I think it's fair to say you have a chance to see a new face this weekend," said Jennifer Schack, the archdiocese's spokeswoman.

The changes are unlikely to shock many Catholics. Priests learned of their new assignments several months ago and most parishioners found out soon after. Schack said Catholics have been saying goodbye to departing priests and welcoming new ones for weeks, even if they don't begin their new roles until July 1.

Still, the movement of so many priests in such a short time is unusual. And some now are in roles that didn't exist until Beacons of Light created them.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr acknowledged so much change in such a short period of time might be difficult for some Catholics, especially as the new parish families consider how to consolidate or close churches and schools.

"There will undoubtedly be hard decisions involving sacrifice and loss," Schnurr wrote in a June 5 letter to Catholics. "As we move forward into an unsure and sometimes confusing future, let us stay united as the Body of Christ."

Schnurr said he believes the coming changes will "bear great fruit in the future."

Catholics generally have greeted the Beacons of Light effort with a mix of apprehension and optimism. Parishes are the center of religious life for Catholics, binding families together, sometimes across generations, through worship, festivals, fish fries, bingo nights, schools and sports.

The planning process for Beacons of Light began more than two years ago with a report outlining the many challenges facing the archdiocese. The report estimated the total number of priests will fall to 125 over the next decade and it determined that many parishes and schools no longer were located where large numbers of Catholics live.

The priests who begin work this weekend in their new roles will help decide how to address those challenges in the years to come.

Beacons of Light Priest Assignments by CincinnatiEnquirer on Scribd

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Catholics will see new priests on pulpit