CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Dozens of Catholic churches in the Diocese of Springfield have shut down over the last 10 years due to a combination of factors, including declining church attendance, a shortage of priests, aging buildings, and movement of the Catholic population away from central cities.
The largest number of closings in the past 10 years came in 2008-2009, following a pastoral planning study that recommended closing and merging several parishes. The pace of church closings has slowed, but has not completely stopped. The most recent closing announced was that of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in West Springfield. Itself the product of a 2008 merger of three churches in West Springfield’s Merrick/Memorial neighborhoods, it will be holding its final Mass in September.
22News has mapped out the location of the closings of parishes across the Diocese of Springfield since 2006. Parishes and mission churches that have permanently closed are highlighted in red on the map. Parishes that have been converted to mission churches are in orange, while churches that successfully appealed their closings and remain open are in green. Not included in the map are churches that now serve as home to a new, merged parish- for example, Sacred Heart Church in Northampton, which is now home to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.