April 29, 2018

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Announces Closure of Worship Site in Northeast Philadelphia

Our Lady Help of Christians Church will no longer serve as a worship site of 
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish and will close as a Roman Catholic Church.

Contextual Background

In July 2016, Our Lady Help of Christians Parish merged with Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, both located in Northeast Philadelphia, as part of the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative that has been ongoing in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. 

At that time, the Our Lady Help of Christians church building became a worship site of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. The worship site was made available for occasional liturgical use as is customary whenever possible in the case of a parish merger. 

Additional information regarding the merger can be found at the following link: http://archphila.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/OLHC-DECREE.pdf

Today’s Announcement

Today the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has approved the relegation of the Our Lady Help of Christians Church building to profane but not sordid use effective June 4, 2018.  This formal, canonical designation means that the church will no longer serve as a worship site and will close as a Roman Catholic Church. 

This information was shared with Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parishioners at all Masses over the course of this weekend.  A copy of the official canonical decree regarding this matter can be found at http://archphila.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Final-Signed-Decree-of-Relegation_OLHC.pdf.

The formal request to close this worship site originated from the pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 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.  

Additional Background

When Our Lady Help of Christians and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parishes merged, all real estate holdings, assets and debts of the former Our Lady Help of Christians Parish were transferred to the newly formed Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.  These transfers are standard procedure in the case of all parish mergers. 

As such, the former Our Lady Help of Christians church building is the property of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.  The future disposition of this building will be determined by the pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in consultation with his parish pastoral and finance councils in a manner consistent with providing for parish viability and sustainability.  

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish has striven to maintain Our Lady Help of Christians Church building in good repair. However, the costs associated with ongoing and deferred maintenance for the properties of the former Our Lady Help of Christians Parish have placed a significant financial strain upon Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.

During the first six months of 2017, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish was required to spend in excess of $100,000 for restoration work on the Our Lady Help of Christians Church building. During the 2017 fiscal year, the total deficits incurred by Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish for the properties formerly owned by Our Lady Help of Christians Parish exceeded $140,000. At the end of this March, the deficit amount incurred for the 2018 fiscal year had already exceeded $20,000.

In addition, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish experienced an operating deficit of over $85,000 during the 2017 fiscal year, and the parish has budgeted an operating deficit of $76,000 for the 2018 fiscal year. It also must be noted that as of the end of February 2018, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish maintained a debt service exceeding $2,600,000.

Because of the significant financial burdens experienced by Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, coupled with the underutilization of the Our Lady Help of Christians Church building, the most prudent course of action for the viability of the parish is the relegation of the worship site.  

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

 

Contact:

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