Diocese of Ogdensburg Tries To Survive With Fewer Priests

Diocese of Ogdensburg Tries To Survive With Fewer Priests

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The Diocese of Ogdensburg has been losing priests and pastors since around 1998.

"I think we had something like 92 resident pastors. Currently, we're dealing with maybe 47," said Father Jay Seymour, Living Stones Planning Committee chair.

The diocese has 54 active priests. Now, each parish is coming up with a plan to give to Bishop Terry LaValley. He ultimately decides which churches need priests and which ones may have to close.

"The plan that comes from the parish is very much local because what they need in Croghan and what they need in Watertown are very different things and the diocese isn't trying to impose that," said Jim Crowley, chancellor of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

The diocese considers mass schedules, costs and priest vacancies when deciding if a church needs to close. 

Diocese officials say they haven't decided to close any churches so far this year, but some communities will likely see changes in the future. 

In Watertown, three churches - currently served by two pastors - will eventually share just one.

"You'd at least have a parochial vicar, and also we're going to probably be counting on our retired priest to assist and then also we're still counting on the help of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart," said Father Seymour.

The parish groups in Massena and the eastern part of Jefferson County have until May 1 to give their plans to the bishop. 

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