What do all these terms mean? Print
Trusting in the Spirit
Thursday, Sep. 30, 2010 -- 12:00 AM
Trusting in the Spirit, by Vicky Lamberty
The Office of Planning is starting a new column that will appear from time to time. We’ll be publishing questions received from parishes and pastors regarding merging, clusters, partnerships, linkages, software, and directives and the answers to those inquiries. If you have a question you’d like answered, please e-mail it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , fax it to 608-821-3139, or mail it to 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53717. We look forward to hearing from you!

In the last few years we have heard about clusters, merging, linkages, and partnerships. I’m confused — what do all these terms mean?

We all understand the serious reality of the priest shortage and how it affects parishes. The Diocese of Madison has taken measures to keep all parishes open for worship and in doing so new terms are being used. Basically, all these words describe different levels of unity and sharing between parishes and are wonderful examples of Catholics working together to solve very difficult problems.

Cluster: multiple parishes in a geographical location. All parishes of the diocese have been formed into clusters.

Merging/Merged: one parish community served by one priest. Two or more parishes that are creating a new parish community by merging together legally, pastorally, spiritually, financially, and administratively — in every way. After the merger is complete, the newly named community is a new parish entity, which may consist of multiple church locations. For instance, Divine Mercy Parish consists of two locations, St. Aloysius, Sauk City, and St. Mary Health of the Sick, Merrimac, which were recently merged together into a new community.

Linking/Linked: multiple parish communities served by one priest. Two or more parishes that are easing the burden on the priest and parishes by working together with Mass times, staff, and other resources.

Partnership: multiple parish communities with multiple priests. Two or more parishes that are working together to find ways to share resources and spiritual opportunities.


Vicky Lamberty is the associate director of the Office of Planning for the Diocese of Madison.