The Church is in retreat mode, surrendering ground to the advancing culture. It will not cease this self-exile until it offers more of what so many people are truly seeking: a return to what makes the Catholic Faith loved.
There was a time when St. Louis, Missouri, was referred to as the “Rome of the West” due to its historical significance as the mother diocese to a large portion of the western United States and its great missionary zeal, hosting seminaries for Maryknollers, Jesuits, and Redemptorists, as well as a teaching college for religious sisters.
These seminaries exist no longer, having shuttered in the years after Vatican II; and in addition to these institutions and others like them, a litany of parishes were closed over the past few decades, many since the turn of this millennium. If they weren’t torn down, historic churches have been converted into homes, offices, theaters, and even—in the most noteworthy and creative example, perhaps—an indoor skatepark. St. Liborius Catholic Church, built in 1889 and closed in 1992, has now become known as “SK8 Liborius.”
Some, if not many, of these closures are easily justified. After all, St. Louis isn’t what it used to be, with its population shifting westward to a large degree, leaving the city and many of its historic churches in the dust, as it were. The population of the city of St. Louis has dropped to nearly a third of its 1950 population; St. Louis County, surrounding the city on its west, has seen its population more than double in that timeframe, and the population of St. Charles County, across the Missouri River to the west and north, has increased nearly fourteen-fold.An Archdiocesan Retreat – Crisis Magazine