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Rev. Steve Angi
The Rev. Steve Angi spends time each Tuesday in Holy Family School classrooms. He also meets regularly with faculty, oversees St. Michael Center in Lower Price Hill and works to raise money for church restoration. (Craig Ruttle photo)

Imagine no priests to celebrate Mass
Catholics have worried for years about the vanishing ranks of priests Ė and now, the impact is here. A severe priest shortage here is causing parishes to close and lay people to conduct more weddings, baptisms and funerals. By decadeís end, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati expects only 100 priests to serve more than a half million Catholics, a projection thatís spurring more change than ever. In a three-day special report, The Enquirer examines whatís happening in one of the nationís most heavily Catholic regions.

IMPACT OF VANISHING PRIESTS HITS HOME
That reality is altering Catholics' lives
As early as this summer, the pace of change will quicken, potentially affecting more than half a million Catholics. The changes represent the most dramatic shifts in the church in 40 years, requiring priests and lay Catholics to rethink their roles.
County-by-county look at Catholics in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Vision of the future: Lacking a pastor, Holy Name Church turned to its pews
Victim of the past: Final Mass at St. Bonnie's was 'worse than a funeral'
Denied a family, he left priesthood
Savio Russo says the celibacy requirement ultimately drove him from the priesthood. Now married with four children, he regrets that his desire for a family meant he could no longer be a priest.
Did you know? Catholic priests weren't always required to be celibate
Archbishop: 'You have to change a little bit'
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk will meet with church leaders in June to discuss ways of dealing with a severe shortage of priests. He shared his thoughts with The Enquirer today.

PRIESTS DOING DOUBLE, TRIPLE DUTY
Overloaded priests pray for strength
In Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, some priests have more responsibilities and parishioners than at any time in 50 years.
Did you know? Only priests can preside at the Eucharist
Oldest, youngest priests share devotion
Interviews with two priests illustrate just how much the hopes, fears and expectations of Catholic priests have changed.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS DO WITHOUT PRIESTS
Priests, nuns vanishing from classroom
Out of necessity, lay people have become the chief propagators of the faith in most Catholic schools today.
Did you know? Notable graduates of Greater Cincinnati's Catholic schools
Women find ways past barriers to ministry
As the church confronts a future with fewer priests, women are finding ways past the barriers to ministry. Yet women cannot be priests, a restriction that is unlikely to change.

YOU TELL US
Should women be allowed into the ministry? Share your thoughts or read others'.
Post your comment...

SPEAKING OUT
Doug Crooms Local students answer the question: How can the church appeal more to young people? Their responses

Valencia Brown What should the Catholic church do to attract more young people into the ministry?
Three responses

Thirteen Catholics from across the region met recently at the Enquirer to talk about changes in the church.
What they had to say

FROM THE PEW
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati asked Catholics their opinions as it considers ways to address a severe shortage of priests. Here's a sampling of answers:




Source: The Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Full results