It’s been hurry up and wait for the Catholic churches in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park regarding the Renew My Church initiative underway by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The initiative is a consolidation of parishes in the Chicago area to address declining membership within the Catholic faith. A recent newsletter from St. Luke Parish, 528 Lake St., notes that the initiative also is a result of a “declining number of priests, which is projected to drop from 770 to 240 diocesan priests by 2030.”

The parishes are being placed in sub-groups; the Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park sub-group includes: Ascension, 808 S. East Ave., Oak Park; St. Bernardine, 7246 Harrison St., Forest Park; St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy, 38 N. Austin Blvd., Oak Park; St. Edmund, 188 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park; St. Giles, 1045 Columbian Ave., Oak Park; St. Vincent Ferrer, 1530 Jackson Ave., River Forest; and St. Luke.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Thomas said in an email that “no decisions have been made at this time,” concerning the Renew My Church initiative for local parishes.

Ascension’s pastor, Rev. James Hulbert, said in a telephone interview that “Mass attendance has taken a steep dive over here in the last 10 to 15 years” and that the Renew My Church initiative will likely result in fewer priests serving area parishes, resulting in consolidated administrative teams.

Timothy Inklebarger

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