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Illinois county down to 1 Catholic church for weekend Mass

March 11, 2019

PIOPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — Roman Catholics in a southern Illinois county are down to one church for weekend Mass.

A decision to close two of Hamilton County’s three Catholic churches took effect over the weekend. There were no Masses at St. John Nepomucene in Dahlgren or St. Clement of Rome in McLeansboro. They’re now designated as chapels.

The area’s “mother church” now is St. John the Baptist in Piopolis. Bishop Edward Braxton made the announcement in February. He called it a “challenging process” with no “winners or losers.”

Rita Rapp, a member of St. John for nearly 40 years, tells WSIL-TV it’s “heartbreaking.”

The bishop says the Belleville Diocese has slightly more than 100 parishes but only 48 active diocesan priests. Braxton says priests from abroad are helping to keep some churches open.

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Information from: WSIL-TV, http://www.wsiltv.com