Diocese celebrates 75 years, prepares for "new normal"

It's a celebration with mixed emotion.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is celebrating its 75th anniversary while many parishoners are looking for answers as to what the future may hold.

SVSU's Ryder Center was transformed Thursday into a place of worship hosting more than a 1,000 people to celebrate the Diocese's 75th anniversary.

"It's not every day that our diocese gets to be this old," said Barb Schaefer.

"Honor the past, celebrate the present and give ourselves the impetus to move forward together as a church," said the Rev. Joseph Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw.

The future, however, is uncertain for many parishoners.

Earlier this year, Bishop Cistone made the decision to close 50 of the Diocese's 109 parishes due to a lack of priests and declining membership.

"To some people right now I'm a saint and to other people they're having a very difficult time with this and that's all understandable," said the Bishop.

Just outside the Ryder Center under a blanket of rain a group held their own mass.

"The people who belong to the parishes that are closing feel that they shouldn't be celebrating they should be mourning over the fact that our parishes are dying," said Father Joseph A. Schabel, of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.

The decision to close churches may not be popular but some parishoners think it's the only way to keep the church alive.

"It's hard a lot of people and i side with them but the bishop's got a hard job and what he does you do for a reason and i support him 100%," said Paul Yelle of Saginaw.

St. George's in Saginaw is holding a "final mass" this Sunday at 9a.m.