Three months after it announced the June closings of 40-plus elementary schools, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia released an initial list of 12 parish mergers today. The consolidations in Coatesville, Germantown and Manayunk will be implemented in July.
"This ongoing restructuring will ultimately strengthen parish communities positioning them for future growth and sustainability," a release from the Archdiocese stated.
But the list of mergers is far from complete: All of the Archdiocese's 267
parishes are being examined to assess their viability and additional
announcements are expected this fall, as well as in the spring of 2013
The recommendations – made by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning
Committee and approved by Archbishop Charles Chaput – resulted from the
Parish Pastoral Planning Area initiative, which began last year.
The Archdiocese estimates that 22 PPAs out of a total
of 44 will complete parish assessments within the next two years, while
the other half will take an additional two years.
In some instances in which the parish facilities being consolidated are in good physical
condition and have sustainable attendance, the former church buildings will remain
open as worship sites for limited use during weddings, funerals, feast days and
traditional devotions. Parishioners will still be expected to attend Sunday and daily mass at the churches designated by the merger.
>> In Coatesville, Our
Lady of the Rosary Parish and Saint Cecilia Parish will merge at the
location and keep the name of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. Saint
Joseph Parish and Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish will merge at the
location and keep the name of Saint Joseph Parish.
Both Saint Cecilia Church and Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church will remain as worship sites.
Rationale: The Archdiocese cited Our Lady of the Rosary Parish's fiscal stability, large seating capacity and strong facilities and stated that the merger will allow for a strengthened outreach to the Hispanic community in the
area. They also pointed out Saint Joseph's service of a growing Hispanic population and Saint Stanislaus Kostka's significant operating deficit and comparatively low attendance and participation.
>> In Germantown, Saint
Francis of Assisi Parish, Immaculate Conception Parish and Saint
Vincent de Paul Parish will merge at the location and keep the name of
Saint Vincent de Paul Parish.
The Immaculate Conception and Saint Francis of Assisi church buildings will not be maintained as worship sites, as both require serious physical improvements that the parishes can't afford.
Rationale: Saint Francis of Assisi and Immaculate Conception parishes have relied heavily on Archdiocesan subsidies for years and the Vincentian Fathers, who staff all three affected parishes, recently said they need to reduce the number of priests in the area from three to two.
>> In Manayunk, Saint Lucy Parish and Holy Family Parish will merge at the location and keep the name of Holy Family Parish. Saint
John the Baptist Parish, Saint Josaphat Parish and Saint Mary of the
Assumption Parish will merge at the location and keep the name of Saint
John the Baptist Parish.
Saint Lucy, Saint Josephat and Saint Mary of the Assumption will remain open as worship sites.
Rationale: Saint Lucy is operating at a significant deficit and the local regional Catholic elementary school is located at Holy Family Parish. As far as the other three churches, Saint John the Baptist has the largest building, is the Mother Church of Manayunk and has a mass attendance that dwarfs that of the other parishes.
>> In West Oak Lane and East Mount Airy, the parishes of Saint Athanasius and Saint Raymond of Peñafort in West Oak Lane and East Mount Airy will remain as free standing.
All of the decisions took into account parish density in a given geographic
area, mass attendance and sacramental participation, clergy shortages,
economic challenges and a review of facilities. Affected parishioners
were notified this weekend through letters and church announcements.
The property, assets and debts of former parishes will be assumed by the
newly-created parishes, which will be led by a transitional team of lay
leaders and pastors at each of the merging parishes.
The Archdiocese also released information about upcoming assessments and announcements.
>> In Phoenixville, Holy Trinity Parish, Saint Mary of the
Assumption Parish and Sacred Heart Parish will be studied further with a
final decision expected within the next few months.
>> In Germantown and Mount
Airy, Holy Cross Parish, Saint Benedict Parish, Saint Madeleine Sophie
Parish and Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish will be studied
further beginning in September 2012 with a final decision expected by
the spring of 2013.