August 21, 2016

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Announces Closure of Worship Sites in the City of Philadelphia as well as Chester and Montgomery Counties

Saint John of the Cross Church (Roslyn), Mater Dolorosa Church (Philadelphia) and Saint Cecilia Church (Coatesville) will no longer serve as a worship sites of Queen of Peace Parish (Ardsley), Holy Innocents Parish (Philadelphia) and Our Lady of the Rosary Parish (Coatesville), respectively, and will close as a Roman Catholic Churches.

 

Contextual Background

Saint John of the Cross Parish Merges with Queen of Peace Parish (July 2014)

In July 2014, Saint John of the Cross Parish, Roslyn (Montgomery County), merged with Queen of Peace Parish, Ardsley (Montgomery 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 Queen of Peace Parish.

At that time, the Saint John of the Cross Church building became a worship site of the newly formed Queen of Peace 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/.

Mater Dolorosa, Saint Joan of Arc, and Saint Joachim Parishes Merge with Holy Innocents Parish (July 2013)

In July 2013, Mater Dolorosa Parish (Frankford), Saint Joan of Arc Parish (Harrowgate) and Saint Joachim Parish (Frankford) merged with Holy Innocents Parish (Juniata Park/Feltonville) as part of the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative that has been ongoing in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. All parishes merged at the location and retained the name of Holy Innocents Parish.

At that time, the Mater Dolorosa Church building became a worship site of the newly formed Holy Innocents Parish and was made 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-and-delaware-county-resulting-from-pastoral-planning-initiative/.

Saint Cecilia Parish Merges with Our Lady of the Rosary Parish (July 2012)

In July 2012, Saint Cecilia Parish, Coatesville (Chester County), merged with Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Coatesville (Chester 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 Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

At that time, the Saint Cecilia Church building became a worship site of the newly formed Our Lady of the Rosary 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-initial-round-of-parish-mergers-resulting-from-pastoral-planning-initiative/.

 

Today’s Announcement

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. relegated the Saint John of the Cross Church building, the Mater Dolorosa Church building and the Saint Cecilia Church building to profane but not sordid use effective September 16, 2016. This formal, canonical designation means that these churches will no longer serve as worship sites and will close as Roman Catholic churches.

This information was shared with Queen of Peace, Holy Innocents and Our Lady of the Rosary parishioners at Masses during the course of this weekend. A copy of the official canonical decrees regarding this matter can be found at: http://archphila.org/features/parish-planning-initiatives/

 

Further Information Regarding Today’s Announcement

The formal request to close these worship sites originated from the pastors of the parishes, together with their parish pastoral and finance councils. The requests were 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. 

Saint John of the Cross Church, Roslyn (Montgomery County)

The annual cost of maintaining the Saint John of the Cross Church property is approximately $200,000.  While Queen of Peace Parish is currently able to meet its expenses, the parish has a debt of approximately $1,500,000. Queen of Peace Parish took on slightly more than half of this debt from Saint John of the Cross Parish when the two parishes were merged. For the parish to pay this debt in a timely manner while continuing to repair and to maintain the Saint John of the Cross Church property could jeopardize the vital ministries of the parish.

Queen of Peace Parish has endeavored to keep Saint John of the Cross Church in good repair. The church property, however, includes other buildings that also must be maintained by the parish so long as the church is in use.

There have been very few requests to use Saint John of the Cross Church for public worship.  In addition it is located in close proximity to Queen of Peace Church, which has served as the parish church since the merger.

When Saint John of the Cross and Queen of Peace Parishes merged, all real estate holdings, assets and debts of the former Saint John of the Cross Parish were transferred to the newly formed Queen of Peace Parish. These transfers are standard procedure in the case of all parish mergers. 

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

Mater Dolorosa Church, Frankford (Philadelphia)

The annual cost of maintaining the Mater Dolorosa Church property is approximately $45,200.  Necessary deferred maintenance costs are estimated at $55,000.  While Holy Innocents Parish has approximately $2.5 million in savings, the parish is also carrying nearly $500,000 in debt. Notably, current parish income is not sufficient to meet recurring operating expenses. As a result, the parish has been forced to draw upon savings to pay standard expenses. It is a financial hardship to continue to repair and to maintain Mater Dolorosa Church property and, over time, that hardship could jeopardize the ministries of the parish and the school.

Holy Innocents Parish has endeavored to keep Mater Dolorosa Church in good repair. The former rectory, however, is attached to the church and so it also must be maintained by the parish so long as the church is in use. In addition to Mater Dolorosa Church, Holy Innocents Parish has responsibility for Holy Innocents Church (the parish church), Saint Joan of Arc Church, Saint Joachim Church and a mission center for Hispanic Catholics. The parish does not have enough clergy to provide ministerial and outreach at all of these locations.

There have been very few requests to use Mater Dolorosa Church for public worship.  In addition it is located in close proximity to Holy Innocents Church, which has served as the parish church since the merger.

When Mater Dolorosa and Holy Innocents Parishes merged, all real estate holdings, assets and debts of the former Mater Dolorosa Parish were transferred to the newly formed Holy Innocents Parish. These transfers are standard procedure in the case of all parish mergers.

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

Saint Cecilia Church, Coatesville (Chester County)

The Saint Cecilia Church property has annual maintenance costs of approximately $46,400.  Necessary deferred maintenance to the property is estimated between $49,000 and $84,000.  Our Lady of the Rosary Parish has approximately $150,000 in savings. Notably, the parish is unable to meet its regular expenses and has an annual operating deficit of approximately $18,000. It is a financial hardship to continue to repair and to maintain Saint Cecilia Church property, and over time, that hardship could jeopardize the ministries of the parish.

Our Lady of the Rosary Parish has endeavored to keep Saint Cecilia Church in good repair. The only recent request to use the church was for the funeral liturgy of a former pastor. In addition, Saint Cecilia Church is located in relatively close proximity to Our Lady of the Rosary Church, which has served as the parish church since the merger.

When Saint Cecilia and Our Lady of the Rosary Parishes merged, all real estate holdings, assets and debts of the former Saint Cecilia Parish were transferred to the newly formed Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. These transfers are standard procedure in the case of all parish mergers.

As such, the former Saint Cecilia Church building is the property of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. The future disposition of this building will be determined by the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary 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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Stephanie Brophy
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215-587-3747 (office)