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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The moment the Archdiocese has been dreading.

The announcement of parish closures happens this month. The City and the inner ring suburbs are getting the worst of it.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron is reviewing recommendations to close up to 20 churches in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck, and about 30 more in the suburbs. The pending closures -- which are expected to be finalized this month -- could shrivel the church's urban footprint to nearly one-third of the 112 parishes that existed in Detroit and its enclaves in 1988.

Since 2000, about 25 parishes have closed in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. Recently, at least seven parishes in the suburbs have decided to close or merge in the next year or two. But unlike the pending suburban closures, many of the urban parishes didn't ask to be closed.

Many of the threatened urban parishes provide services to poor and homeless people. They are beacons of stability. And they are fighting to stay open.

"If it is providing food services, helping the homeless, closing (a church) is really a symbolic death knell of a neighborhood," said demographer Kurt Metzger, who directs Data Driven Detroit and shared population trends and statistics with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which made the closure recommendations.

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