Parishes get bigger as priest numbers fall
Some 109 parishes in the German diocese of Hildesheim were amalgamated to 39 on the Feast of All Saints on 1 November. This affects 213,000 Catholics, around one-third of the Catholics in the diocese. Two years ago, 54 parishes were amalgamated to 19. The clustering is part of the diocesan reform programme and is a reaction to the shortage of priests. The church authorities see several advantages in larger parishes. Many people are more mobile now and "quite naturally" plan their lives in larger social dimensions, they say. There is a greater pool of talent in larger parishes, and greater numbers in church means more people experience the Eucharist together.