Likely "No viable alternative" to closing 160 year old Dubuque parish - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"No viable alternative" to closing 160 year old Dubuque parish

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Dubuque church and landmark may soon close its doors, partially citing financial troubles and an aging parish. At Saturday mass, church leaders announced to parishioners that they will likely close the doors.

Nothing is final at this point, though church leaders say this is likely the end of a more than 150 year parish history. St. Mary's part of a cluster with St. Patrick's (sharing some resources, like mass times and a priest).

"All of us love St. Mary's parish, and none of us want to see this happen, but we are faced with a reality where something has to happen, and we need to deal with the realities that face us," Rev. Steven Rosonke said.

In recent years, the pastoral planning committee has been forced to reckon with financial trouble.

"The parish community on the average needs around $40,000 a month to operate and in a normal month, we don't bring in that. We usually bring in half of that, sometimes less than that," Rosonke said.

For the last fiscal year, St. Mary's had a $25,000 deficit. Some parishioners say reducing the church's largest expense, nearly $230,000 to Holy Family schools, would help.

"If you take away the school assessment from the expenses, then we make $200,000 a year. It's enough to pay for the windows, the parking lot, and over time, we could do all the repairs to the church," Pete Ludowitz said.

Other things factor in. Church leaders report around 65%of the parish is 70 or older. The neighborhood has changed significantly, and they aren't pulling many young families.

"All of us are hurting because of this. It's a very painful situation to have to be in, but the planning committee sees no viable alternative," Rosonke said.

For now, the next step is the parish council which has tentatively agreed with the plan to close -- while the parish waits for a final answer.

"Well, we've had an effort to save the church over the last two years. Obviously it hasn't done a lot, but I'll do anything I can to save it, I'll tell you that," Ludowitz said.

Even through tough times, Rosonke is confident the parish will come together.

"Sometimes we may not be able to perceive it, but we know that with faith in god, all things will work out for good," Rosonke said.

The parish council still has to make a final decision. If they recommend closure, the Archdiocese would take the recommendation and work with the church on a timeline for closing.

The parish will hold a meeting where church leadership will further explain the recommendation and parishioners will have the chance to speak. That meeting will be Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Saint Mary's.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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