First phase merges diocese parishes

Candy Neal/The Herald
Bishop Charles C. Thompson, left, and Diocesan chief operating officer, Tim McGuire are making the announcements at a press conference in Evansville this morning.

By The Herald Staff

EVANSVILLE — After more than five years of planning, the Catholic Diocese of Evansville this morning announced the first phase of changes that will affect all 12 counties in the diocese.

As part of the initial phase of the new strategic plan, 24 parishes in the diocese will be combined to form 10 new parishes. Five of those parishes are in Spencer County, and they will form two of the new parishes.

Mary Help of Christians Parish in Mariah Hill and St. Nicholas Parish in Santa Claus will merge with St. Joseph Parish in Dale. The new St. Joseph Parish will be effective July 1, 2015.

In another change, St. Martin I Parish in Chrisney will be created by the merger of the existing St. Martin I and St. John Chrysostom Parish in New Boston, effective July 1, 2014.

Father John Brosmer has been the pastor at St. Joseph and St. Nicholas parishes, as well as the sacramental moderator conducting Mass at Mary Help of Christians, for the past six years. Deacon Jim Woebkenberg is the pastoral life coordinator at Mary Help of Christians and also serves as a deacon at St. Joseph and St. Nicholas churches.

Fr. John, who had just finished Mass at St. Nicholas Parish this morning when the official announcements were made, indicated the church has been moving for some time in the direction that culminated with the new strategic changes brought forth today. He thinks the changes can provide a renewed inspiration and vision for himself and his parishioners.

The changes will bring new possibilities and opportunities to make the church more effective and visible in the community, he said.

The plans were announced at a press conference in Evansville by Bishop Charles C. Thompson and the diocese’s chief operating officer, Tim McGuire. They also were announced in today’s issue of The Message, the diocesan newspaper. All of the mergers will be in place by July 1, 2016.

Fr. John said he will go over the announced changes during Masses this weekend. After that, he said, the churches can begin talking about the logistics of making the merger happen.

None of the 24 churches involved in the mergers will close, according to the bishop. They will remain open as worship sites but the merged parish will have a single council and priest. Pastors of the new parishes will be announced July 1 of next year.

Plans for the Catholic churches in Dubois County were not mentioned. No additional announcements will be made for at least six months, McGwire said, and before any subsequent plans are shared, at least one listening session will be held in Jasper.

As the changes are implemented throughout the diocese, the church guidelines that call for a single priest to celebrate no more than three Masses on a weekend, excluding weddings and funerals, will be adhered to more stringently than they have been, the bishop confirmed.

Incidentally, two upcoming priest changes in Dubois County were announced in today’s Message.
Rev. Pascal E. Nduka, a native of Nigeria, has been appointed associate pastor of Precious Blood Church in Jasper and St. Mary Parish in Ireland, effective Nov. 28. Father Gary Kaiser pastors those churches.

Rev. Timothy Tenbarge, pastor at St. Anthony and Sacred Heart parishes, will retire from active ministry effective Dec. 4.

Herald Staff members Bill Powell, Candy Neal, Claire Moorman and Martha Rasche contributed to this report.

More on