Re: Circuit Riding Updated?
Consider a town with three Catholic churches. St. A has been slated for closing but it is self sufficient, has an active parishioner body and runs a popular day care center. St. B is larger and offers four masses each Sunday as well as one Saturday night. St. C has a school and offers a Saturday night mass and two on Sunday.
So, why not cut one of St. B's Sunday masses and have the priest celebrate mass at St. A's just once on Sunday. The people have their familar parish. The church remains open. The day care center continues to operate.
There is the issue of the number of priests and there are financial issues.
The priests do a lot more than just say Sunday (or Saturday) mass. They also go to each nursing home in their assigned area and say masses at those through out the week as well as perfoming "Last Rights" rituals at nursing homes and local hospitals, visiting ill members of their parish, etc..
From a financial aspect, paying for the priest is probably a pretty small amount. Most of the Church run day care centers and schools are subsidized through the church. The people that utilize them aren't paying the full cost of whatever service is provided. The Boston Globe ran an article a few months back mentioning that something like 40% of the kids that attend Catholic schools are there on full grants. If you figure 25 per grade level and 8 grades in an elementry school that's 200 kids. 40% puts 80 of them there gratis. At $8K/year that's $640K the church pays for just one school and that's just the tuition costs.
There is BIG money involved in every catholic parish and as long as expenses exceed revenue they'll continue cutting their numbers back.