The Archdiocese of Omaha announced plans last week to close three of its schools and to reduce the number of parishes in east Omaha. Now, what to do with the empty buildings once those schools and churches close?
Students no longer roam the halls of Blessed Sacrament School at 30th and Redick. They attend St. Phillip Neri and the two parishes share a priest. “When we start to work together at the council level to decide whether we have one worship site or two worship sites,” says Blessed Sacrament Church member Larry Ziska.
Ziska was married there and his kids went to school there. The school and church are already going through some of the changes that others in the eastern part of the city will go through. Three schools will close their doors after the upcoming school year and a number of parishes will merge.
“Over the next three years I am proposing that we reconfigure and consolidate some parishes from a total of 34 to 26,” says Omaha Archbishop George Lucas. That means more empty halls, more empty buildings.
“We've looked at the possibility, is this space worthwhile to renovate and be a good medical clinic?" said Ziska. "I don't know. Is it a good place for some neighborhood council and those type of services that could be continued in north Omaha? There’s no decision made yet at all about the buildings. I just stress the people in the parish will have something to say about that, they'll be involved in those discussions when the time comes.”
The Archdiocese promises to help parishes and school communities work through concerns and the transition. A help line has been set up to answer questions. Call 402-557-5655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.