PITTSBURGH — The Diocese of Pittsburgh has announced plans to consolidate 61 parishes into 15 new parishes.

The mergers, to be completed July 1, will reduce the number of parishes in the diocese of Pittsburgh from 152 to 106.

Bishop David Zubik told parishioners in a letter that “This has not been a simple task” but spoke of the need for sacrifice and said “You are positioning your new parish for more effective ministry by addressing financial needs, sharing resources and allowing your clergy to focus on the spiritual work for which they were ordained.”

In December, the diocese announced plans to merge 26 parishes into eight new parishes. Officials said the mergers followed “extensive consultation” with laity in all parishes, including 329 parish meetings across the diocese in 2017.

“This is a pivotal time for our diocese as we plan for the future of the Church of Pittsburgh,” Zubik wrote. “Southwestern Pennsylvania is radically different than it was 100, 50, 20, even 10 years ago, yet the work of the church and our call from God to bring His love to everyone continues as strong as ever.”

Crux staff contributed to this report.