Moving forward church leaders see the mergers as positive moves. “I think once we get over the shock there will be an opportunity for great growth,” said Koressel. “There is a sunny side to this.”
“I can see this reinvigorating the church,” added Erbacher. “I feel an intense excitement over the things we can accomplish as a larger parish. This will create some great opportunities.”
The mergers are the first phase of a plan church officials hope will help them deal with changes in technology and demographics in the 21st century. “The bishop has said there will be other phases to this, but he has not given any kind of time line on when any additional changes will happen,” said Lilly.
Church leaders feel the process has set a positive stage for the future of the church. Bishop Thompson’s open letter stated: “Our strategic planning efforts have consistently revealed the passion and devotion of our Catholic family across the diocese. These people enthusiastically stepped up to tackle the challenge of altering the landscape of the diocese in ways that will renew and bolster the spiritual vitality of our parishes.”