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Posted August 21, 2007

Fewer Parishes Being Entrusted
to Someone Other than a Priest

From the CARA Report, Summer 2007

According to the 2007 edition of The Official Catholic Directory (OCD), the number of parishes without a resident priest pastor that are entrusted to someone other than a priest has decreased for the third straight year, to a current total of 499 (a one-year decline of9.6 percent). The total number of parishes entrusted to someone other than a priest peaked in 2004 at 566. The 2005 OCD reported 553 such parishes and the 2006 edition reported 552.

The 1983 Revised Code of Canon Law provided for this possibility in Canon 517.2: “If, because of lack of priests, th diocesan bishop has decided that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish is to be entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest, or to a community of persons . . .” and CARA has tracked the trends in Parish Life Coordinators (PLCs) since the OCD began reporting them in 1993.

PLCs are most often women religious, but the number of deacons appointed to these positions is on an upward trend. The percentage of c517.2 parishes entrusted to sisters has reached its lowest point since 1993 at 39 percent (compared to 65 percent in 1993). The percentage of these parishes entrusted to deacons has reached its highest point at 29 percent (13 percent in 1993). At least a quarter of c517.2 parishes have been entrusted to lay men and women since 2003. Currently, 28 percent are entrusted to lay persons.