February 23, 2005.
Archdiocese Consolidation

By Michelle Sullivan

To many, it could be considered another controversial move.
On Friday, Archbishop Raymond Burke is expected to announce what South City Catholic churches will be closing.
But some say the closings come at a time when the city is in the midst of a revitalization. The Archbishop's announcement comes after an 18-month study which looked at what area churches weren't performing up to par.

Archdiocese spokesperson Jamie Allman said, "Archbishop Rigali started the pastoral planning 18 months ago because there were many priests that came to us and said we're having trouble running our schools, we're having trouble keeping our bank accounts fat and we're having trouble with parishioners who are moving out."

But Mayor Francis Slay says things are changing. "More people are moving in than out, property values are up, we have issued more building permits than ever before in the city's history," said Slay. Slay met with Burke Tuesday night as sort of an eleventh hour plea to keep as many churches open as possible. "We made some pretty strong cases as to the overall plan and individual parishes as well," said Slay.

The churches are the cornerstone of these neighborhoods. They provide assistance to struggling families, some have day care centers and Mayor Slay says the schools are an incentive for new families moving into the area. Once the churches and schools are closed, some of them will be leased, but the archdiocese points out that anything is possible, some could eventually re-open. "Some of them will in fact remain where they are in the event that we do experience the boom that the mayor is hoping for," said Allman.

The Archbishop's decision will appear in Friday's St. Louis Review.
Allman said many South City Catholics will be relieved to find that not as many churches and schools will be closed as rumors suggested.
Copyright 2005, KPLR
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