Three Catholic church in vermouth are set to close within the following week-- the latest sign of the times for Vermont"s biggest church community. Our Ike Bendavid takes a look at what"s behind the closures and what"s next.

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I"m called it"s several things. Weekly fixed attendance and accessibility to various other churches in the area make it easier to consolidate, however the main reason is not enough priests to lead the parishes in the state.

After near 90 years, St. Stephen"s Church in Winooski will ring the bells one last time this weekend.

"It will be missed for those of united state who have loved it," claimed Peggy Lesage that Winooski.

Lesage has actually been going to this church for 33 years.

"Just about helping out through everything since I have been over there so long," she said.

She will be one of more than 100 world who will be in search of a new church together St. Stephen"s will organize its critical mass on Sunday.

"I was not surprised," Lesage said. "We have been challenged with a absence of priests in the diocese because that a long time."

And that"s the key reason for this church come close. The existing priest, dad Steve Hornat, is moving south and there is no one to change him.

"It"s a an overwhelming challenge. It"s the society that us live in, priesthood is no an appeal ministry because that young civilization these days," Hornat said.

The variety of churchgoers has likewise been falling because that years, pushed by aging demographics, a decline in religious interest among younger people and also priest sex abuse scandals that have driven away part parishioners.

According come the roman inn Catholic Diocese the Burlington, there were 142,000 Catholics in vermont in 1990. In 2019, there were 112,000 statewide.

In 1990, there to be 2,097 baptisms. In 2019, over there were just 384.

Also in 1990, there were 1,290 Catholic funerals. Critical year, there to be 1,127.

"The congregations are getting smaller, so it makes a lot of sense for a little city favor Winooski that has two Catholic churches to bring them together," Hornat said.

Winooski is not alone. Top top July 1, phibìc American Martyrs Catholic Church in Marshfield and also St. Edward Catholic Church in Williamstown will close. That will certainly make 20 church closings in Vermont due to the fact that 1990. Closures in little towns force parishioners to drive to bordering towns because that church services.

Lesage has more options with 12 churches within 5 mile of St. Stephen"s that she have the right to attend.

"I might end up being one of the church hoppers trying to find a location to speak to home again," she said.

Lesage additionally told me the it"s challenging to close down throughout the pandemic. They can"t have actually a ideal goodbye because that the monk or the church.

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Vermont has an older population and it seems choose we have actually a most older priests. According to the diocese, together of 2019, there were 50 priests statewide in Vermont. Only eight that them to be under 34. And also 19 of lock were over 60, i m sorry points to some retirements soon.

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