Archdiocese of Philadelphia Announces Closure of Worship Site in Delaware County

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church, Essington (Delaware County), will no longer serve
as a worship site of Saint Gabriel Parish, Norwood (Delaware County), and will close as a Roman Catholic Church.

Contextual Background

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish Merges with Saint Gabriel Parish (July 2014)

In July 2014, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, Essington (Delaware County), merged with Saint Gabriel Parish, Norwood (Delaware County), as part of the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative that has been ongoing in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Both parishes merged at the location and retained the name of Saint Gabriel Parish.

At that time, the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church building became a worship site of the newly formed Saint Gabriel Parish and was available for the occasional celebration of Mass as well as funerals and weddings as is customary whenever possible in the case of a parish merger.

Additional information regarding that merger can be found at the following link: 

http://archphila.org/archdiocese-announces-parish-mergers-in-philadelphia-as-well-as-delaware-montgomery-and-bucks-counties-resulting-from-pastoral-planning-initiative/

Today’s Announcements

Today, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has approved the relegation of the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church building to profane but not sordid use effective June 12, 2017.

This formal, canonical designation means that this building will no longer serve as a worship site of Saint Gabriel Parish and will close as a Roman Catholic church.

This information was shared with Saint Gabriel parishioners at Masses during the course of this weekend. A copy of the official canonical decree regarding this matter can be found at: http://archphila.org/features/parish-planning-initiatives/.

Further Information Regarding Today’s Announcements

The formal request to close this worship site originated from the pastor of the parish, together with his parish pastoral and finance councils. The request was then reviewed by the Archdiocesan Council of Priests and presented to Archbishop Chaput, who, after a careful review of all supporting factors, made the final decision.

The fact that a request for relegation of the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church building had been made, as well as information about the process, was previously shared with parishioners of Saint Gabriel Parish.

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Essington (Delaware County)

Saint Gabriel Parish has endeavored to maintain Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church since the merger took place nearly three years ago.

However, it is foreseen that the necessary routine and deferred maintenance costs associated with upkeep of the property would be detrimental to the future financial stability of the Saint Gabriel Parish community. In the past fiscal year alone, Saint Gabriel Parish allocated over $25,000 toward such expenditures, including $12,000 to repair the heating system in a building complex that is currently underutilized.

Since the July 2014 merger, there has been limited liturgical and sacramental activity at the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church building and very few requests from Saint Gabriel parishioners for the same. Experience has shown that the main parish church of Saint Gabriel is able to accommodate the sacramental needs of its parishioners on its own.  Based on those factors, continuing to allocate resources to the upkeep of the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church building would not be representative of effective stewardship. Existing resources would be better utilized to advance the parish’s mission of caring for the spiritual and temporal needs of those entrusted to its care.

Additionally, the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church is physically connected to a rectory and a school building. A vacant convent and parking lot also sit on the property. Saint Gabriel Parish may wish to sell the entire parcel at a future date.

When Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Saint Gabriel Parishes merged, all real estate holdings, assets and debts of the former Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish were transferred to the newly formed Saint Gabriel Parish. These transfers are standard procedure in the case of all parish mergers. 

As such, the former Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Church building is the property of Saint Gabriel Parish. The future disposition of this building will be determined by the pastor of Saint Gabriel Parish in consultation with his parish pastoral and finance councils in a manner consistent with providing for continued parish viability and sustainability.

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Editor’s Note: For additional information on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, please visit http://archphila.org/features/parish-planning-initiatives/.


 

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Contact:

Stephanie Brophy
Associate Director of Communications
215-587-3747 (office)