Looking for a New Way to Be Church: Managing the Personal and Organizational Consequences of Parish Merger

Team Members/Contributors

Matthew T. Loveland Le Moyne College Contact Me
Margret M. Ksander All Saints Parish Contact Me

About this award

Diocesan restructuring is increasingly common in the U.S. Catholic Church. Various strategies have resulted in many parish closings and mergers, and other adjustments to pastoral care. While limited large scale, descriptive work has covered the causes and consequences restructuring, surprisingly little theoretically informed research has examined how these changes affect the religious lives of parishioners or the organizational structure of newly formed parishes. Nonetheless, media coverage of closings and mergers tell of significant challenges to the affected religious congregations and their members. At the same time, diocesan reconfiguration may offer new opportunities for ministry programs, as well as spiritual and social growth. We propose to explore questions about organizational, individual, social, and spiritual responses to organizational restructuring through a multi-method case study of a recently merged Catholic parish in a northeastern Catholic diocese undergoing wide restructuring. We envision a number of benefits for the wider Church, including but not limited to development of strategies and models for Catholic parishes which are certain to merge in the future and exploration of the changing role and meaning of Parish life for contemporary Roman Catholics. Further, as we expect to uncover a certain amount of conflict, our project will contribute to the growing literature, both scholarly and practical, about the organizational trials and tribulations common to American congregations.