The Roman Catholic Church plans to merge several parishes in eastern South Dakota and create a new parish on the south side of Sioux Falls.
The moves are in response to a decline in priests and changes in population. Sioux Falls Diocese Bishop Paul Swain says the changes are necessary to protect the health of priests pressed into covering large areas.
The diocese covers 35,000 square miles. Twenty-three parish mergers will occur on July 1. A tenth parish will be added in Sioux Falls to handle population growth. The net result will be a drop from 141 parishes to 119.
The changes follow years of study and eight public meetings around the diocese this year. Swain says his office also received hundreds of written comments.
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