Thousands of Catholics Affected: Hammer Norden Becomes “Rural Place” – What Is That Anyway?

Thousands of Catholics Affected: Hammer Norden Becomes "Rural Place" - What Is That Anyway?

It is no longer used: the Harz-Jesu-Kirche on Hammer Strae has long been defiled and sold – the result of the need to save in the Diocese of Münster.

© Heinrich Weimar (Archive)

The Diocese of Münster has larger plans for three parishes north of Lippe in Hamm: they are to be combined into the so-called “pastoral space”. 21,000 Catholics are affected. We interpret meaning and context.

Hamm-Norden – following mergers in 2004 and 2005 three larger parishes were created from the first ten parishes in the Hamm part of the Diocese of Münster, now north of Lippe to form a new entity. The dean’s office in Ham-Nord, which consists of three parishes, must have a countryside place Form. The Episcopal specifications for this procedure explicitly stated: “There shall be no further amalgamation of the parishes ordered by Bishop Felix Jane.” In addition, there is a need for greater willingness to collaborate between parishes and between full-time and volunteer workers.

The new rustic room north of Lippe will be the smallest in the entire diocese. It includes about 21,000 Catholics. There should be a total of 40 to 50 new pastoral rooms in the diocese.

country team

The highlights of the rustic rooms were presented in September, at a kick-off event for the Warendorf district dean’s office, which houses the Hamm-Nord dean’s office. An event for the Dean’s Office Ham-Nord is planned for February 9th. The handout of the diocese “Development of Pastoral Structures” states that the pastoral team will generally consist of no more than eight full-time employees – depending on size. According to the spokesman for the diocese, Dr. Stephen Cronenberg originally meant the pastoral worker in the head office, the priest, pastoral officer and deacon. “However, today some parishes are already forming multi-professional teams, including administrative officers or managing day-care centers for children or social workers. These employees should of course be included in future considerations as well. How this will happen is not yet decided. There will be an explanation during the process,” he explains.

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There are currently nine pastors serving in the future pastoral area of ​​Hamm. According to Cronenberg, it has not been decided whether the number will remain or will decline. “We are still at the beginning of the process. Some proposed pastoral rooms in the Warendorf district dean’s office (Ahlen, Everswinkel-Ostbevern-Telget, Warendorf), in terms of the number of Catholics, are as large as a possible future pastoral room in Hamm. Here you have to look at the overall – also taking into account the feedback from the site – how to get a good division of the workforce. One thing is certain: overall, we have a much lower pastoral staff and financials overall There will be opportunities.”

Bishop Gein is quoted as saying of the need to create new units after several parish mergers in the diocese: “We have to design the pastoral structure so that the preaching of the good news is possible under a significantly changed structure. There will be situations in the future.”

It was demolished: St. Joseph’s church in Hessen was desecrated and had to be given way. Now St. Joseph’s Retirement Home is located there.

© Heinrich Weimar (Archive)


Behind the conditions of the significantly changed structure are above all the facts and figures that describe a clear decline for the Catholic Church and are listed in the handout. According to this, the number of Catholics in the Warendorf District Deanery would drop from 227,824 (bishopric-wide 2,072,503) in 2000 to 119,459 (1,380,096). The drop in attendance at church services is even greater. While in 2000 there were about 344,000 in the diocese, in 2019 that number fell to 147,000. Then came the coronavirus, and last year only 89,010 people attended services in the diocese’s churches.

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Church life also declined largely in other areas. Baptisms: From 21,037 in 2000 to 14,060 in 2019. Marriages: From 5621 in 2000 to 3,280 in 2019. First banquet: From 26,396 in 200 to 14,049 in 2019.

It doesn’t look better with pastoral care staff. At present there are still 380 diocesan priests. Their number is expected to drop to about 100 in 2040. The decline is currently estimated for priests of the Universal Church from 165 to 60. In 2000 there were 600 pastoral counselors and assistants. Their numbers are expected to drop to 250 in 2040. In addition, the Diocese of Münster expects the “church tax force” to be halved by 2060 compared to 2017 levels.

Only the exits show a steep upward curve. In 2000, 7079 people left the Catholic Church. There were about 13,000 people as of July this year.

the schedule

The following program is planned for the creation of the new pastoral space north of Hamm:

  • February 9, 2022: Program at the level of the Dean’s Office Ham-Noord.
  • Second Quarter 2022: Day for Parish Councils, response by the end of 2022. Review of proposals/outcomes, amendments if necessary.
  • Beginning 2023: Renewed discussion of structural proposals, if necessary, response by end of March 2023
  • April/May 2023: The consultation and decision-making phase ends.

regional team

There is a regional team for each district/city dean. It is the first point of contact for questions in the relevant field. It ensures the linkage between the District/City Dean’s Office and the Diocese level. Auxiliary Bishops Dr. Stefan Zekorn, Maria Bubenitschek (Head of the Pastoral Care Department) and Matthias Schleert (Managing Director of the Borken District Dean’s Office).

Merged with the Dean’s Office in Hmm-Nordo

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For a long time the formation of new parish and pastoral spaces in the dean’s office in Hamm-Noord has been discussed.

With the departure of Pastor Paul Markfort in 2014, Munster Bishop Dr. Felix Jann originally the two parish popes Johannes (Hessen) and Clemens August Graf von Galen (Haim-Norden) will be merged in 2015.

These two parishes were also amalgamations of formerly independent parishes. Gain’s predecessor, Dr. Achim Letman arranged: Popes emerged on the first of 2004 arrivals from Johannes St. Stephanus, St. Theresia, St. Marianne and St. Joseph. Clemens August Graf von Galen emerged from Herz-Jesu and Maria Königin on the first Sunday of Advent in 2005. On January 1, 2005, the parish of the Holy Spirit was formed from the four formerly independent parishes of St. Stephanus, St. Pancratius, Herz-Jesu and Christus König.

Bishop Jane of Münster also wanted to tackle the dean’s structure in 2015 and merge six rustic rooms into the new dean’s office in Ahlen Hamm. In addition to the parishes of the dean’s office in Hamm-Nord, the parish of the dean’s office in Ahlen was also part of it. These plans were not implemented.

What is a rustic place?

Development of on-site pastoral care (pastoral care). It enables pastoral practices and pastoral differentiation at different levels (parish/parish/supra-parish pastoral areas of work) in mutual coordination. It ensures the co-operation of various responsibilities for pastoral areas of action at the local and regional level and integrates various pastoral locations, institutions and areas of specialized (hierarchical) pastoral care.

A pastoral room usually takes into account district and sectarian boundaries, the status and development of the number of Catholics, as well as regional realities and differences.

Pastoral spaces are identified through a participatory, communicative process, taking into account processes that have already been undertaken, including current processes (including savings and strategy processes, volunteer engagement, various forms of management) and Networking, with the participation of full-time staff and volunteers (in councils and committees) as well as the leadership of the diocese and the participation of the diocese administration.

(Source: Diocese’s handout “Development of rustic structures”)

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