“Largest reform of the ecclesiastical landscape”

The comprehensive reorganization of Catholic parishes in the Ruhr bishopric has now been completed in the city deanery of Essen. The legal restructuring ended Tuesday with the creation of five major parishes there, according to a statement from the city church. The biggest reform of the ecclesiastical landscape since the founding of the Ruhr bishopric 50 years ago is not yet finished.

The restructuring will not be completed at the diocesan level until the establishment of four major parishes in Bochum and one in Wattenscheid, probably on 1. September will be completed.In the course of the reform, the previously 259 independent congregations were and will be merged into 43 large unions. In the city deanery of Essen, which comprises a quarter of all the faithful, priests and churches in the Ruhr bishopric, 58 parishes have been merged into 10 large parishes. Membership numbers range from 16.000 and 33.000 Catholics.24 of 80 Essen churches to be abandoned as part of reform, city church further announced. A solution has already been found for 4 places of worship. One was converted into a home for the elderly, one is to become a nursing school, and two others are to be given to the Russian Orthodox community and the Chaldean community.The diocese reportedly allocates to large parishes for 2009 about half of the funds that were available to parishes before the start of the2005 reform. Therefore, the number of jobs for sextons and church musicians, for example, as well as the number of real estate will decrease, it was said. Staff cuts should be made as socially acceptable as possible, for example by offering part-time work for older employees.At present, the congregations are preparing for church council elections. The committees decide on finances, personnel and real estate in the large parish. The new parish councils, in which lay people also take care of pastoral life, are to be made up of equal numbers from the parish councils of the formerly independent parishes. These are to remain in existence as "parish councils.

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