Saginaw Diocese reorganization: What happens when the music stops?

Shrinking church attendance and a growing need for priests is forcing the Saginaw diocese to consolidate churches and forcing others to take on smaller roles within the diocese.

Today, a small church in Kawkawlin is ending traditional weekly services and moving its congregation to another church Linwood.

At age 11 Marge Grzgorczyk took her seat behind the St. Valentine's organ, and hasn't left since. Over the past 72 years the congregation has been singing to her tune.

"I just feel delighted. I feel when I come out of church I am happy. And then I have a husband that says good job marge, and so he's happy," said Grzgorczyk.

Last year, the Diocese of Saginaw started making plans to consolidate and repurpose churches, including marge's beloved St.Valentines.

"I never thought our church would get closed," said Grzgorczyk.

Following the last note on Marge's organ on Sunday St. Valentine's will be designated as a church of occasional use.

"We will have funerals here we will have weddings here. We will have masses you know periodically throughout the year," said Father T.J Flemming.

For marge and others shifting from full time to periodical, is a tearful change.

"It hurts you, it hurts you because you just wonder why, why did this happen," asks Grzgorczyk.

St. Valentineâ??s is a parish seeing less and less parishioner's in the pews. With a nationwide lack of men entering priesthood the continuation of the Saginaw Diocese is difficult.

"If we get more priests and more people start coming back to church we'll open this back up," said Father Flemming.

Until the younger population starts soul searching, joining Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Kawkawlin is one of the closest options for Marge.

"Itâ??s going to be hard to go somewhere else because our people are used to going here," said Grzgorczyk.

For the Catholic Diocese the future is uncertain, and after 72 years behind the keys the next step for Marge is also undetermined.

"Iâ??m afraid to go some places to places to play because I am just a little country girl," said Grzgorczyk.

As of July 1, 2014 there are 14 churches scheduled to merge services across the dioceseâ??s 5 counties.