NORWICH, Conn. — A decline in the number of priests has forced the Norwich Roman Catholic Diocese to link two churches in Somers and Stafford to share a pastor.

The Journal Inquirer reports that All Saints Church in Somers and St. Edward Church in Stafford will keep their separate identities.

The Rev. Roland C. Cloutier, who has been pastor of All Saints Church since 2010, has begun leading St. Edward Church.

He says the diocese is yoking the churches, and sharing a pastor, because of the shortage of priests or seminarians. He said the yoking would likely be permanent because it could be decades before a higher number of priests could be ordained.

Cloutier said yoking has become a trend in the Catholic Church.