The following comes from a January 29 Visalia Times-Delta article by Juan Villa:
A process that began more than seven years ago concluded earlier this month with the consolidation of the Catholic parishes in Visalia and Goshen into one entity: The Good Shepherd Catholic Parish.
The newly named parish replaces the current title, The Catholic Church of Visalia.
“They will not notice a difference,” said Monsignor Raymond Dreiling of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno. “There may be some small changes in scheduling, with a reduced number of priests, they may have to reschedule the masses to make them more available to people. That may be a little different, but they will see very little difference when they go to church on Sundays.”
Dreiling was pastor of The Catholic Church of Visalia until 2014. He said it was the first time the Diocese has consolidated multiple churches into one parish due to the shortage of priests across the country.
The four worship sites consolidated are The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (St. Mary’s), St. Charles Borromeo Church and Holy Family Church in Visalia and St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Goshen.
“St. Thomas has been part of the Catholic community of Visalia for many, many years,” Dreiling said. “It was consolidated because it was too small for a community to really support a resident priest, to pay his salary and support his livelihood. They just didn’t have the means to do that.”
The Diocese of Fresno, which serves eight counties in the Central Valley and two in Nevada, is the second fastest growing diocese in the United States, Medina said.
It’s currently the 14th largest Catholic diocese in the country.
“So, that being said, we have to find ways in which we can think outside the box on how we are going to serve the spiritual needs of a huge population of Catholics, and serve them well, not just get by and do the bare minimum, but really grow people’s faith and assist them in times of need, joys and sorrows,” Dreiling said. “How can we do that with the fewer number of priests we have and a large number of people we’re trying to serve?”