With numbers decreasing in rural churches across Eastern South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Diocese is making a change. Through information gathered since 2008, the Catholic Church will be merging parishes across the 35,000 square miles that the Diocese covers.
Bishop Paul Swain of the Sioux Falls Diocese says that the changes are put in place to protect the health of priests pressed into covering large areas, including one priest that has to drive over 90 miles to lead services.
The changes will be implemented on July 1, and 23 parishes in total will merge. Even though the Bishop knows that change is needed, he wants the transition to be done smoothly for the people still attending the churches.
“Try and do it in a way that's sensitive. This is hard. Change is hard, but in the long haul we're going to have a more vibrant and vital parishes,” Swain said.
But with the consolidation across the eastern part of the state, that doesn't mean the Sioux Diocese as a whole is struggling.