April 15, 2012
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has approved the recommendations of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee to merge several parishes across the Archdiocese in Coatesville, Germantown, and Manayunk. This ongoing restructuring will ultimately strengthen parish communities positioning them for future growth and sustainability.
"Restructuring our parishes will be a challenge for many families and individuals. Change is rarely easy. But we do need to take these steps to help every parish more effectively promote the Gospel and strengthen the future of our Catholic life together," said Archbishop Chaput.
The recommendations and resulting mergers are an outcome of the Archdiocesan-wide Parish Pastoral Planning Area initiative, which began in 2011. Parishioners at all affected parishes learned of the final decisions through letters mailed to all registered parishioners as well as announcements made at all Masses this past weekend. It is hoped that the planning and restructuring process will result in revitalized parishes throughout the Archdiocese that are better equipped to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of future generations.
The mergers announced today were based on a combination of factors, including, but not limited to, demographic shifts in Catholic populations, concentrated density of parishes in a limited geographic area, history of declining Mass attendance and sacramental activity, increasing economic challenges that threaten sustainability, a decrease in the availability of clergy to staff parishes, and a review of facilities.
Parishioners will attend daily and Sunday Mass at the church of the newly formed parish. In some cases, the churches of the former parishes will remain open and be maintained as worship sites. At the discretion of the pastor, these sites will be utilized for weddings, funerals and feast days, as well as traditional and ethnic devotions. Because of the physical condition of some church buildings and the inability of the parishes to maintain them this will not be possible in all cases. Sunday Mass may also be celebrated at a worship site at the discretion of the pastor and the newly formed pastoral council. All parish property, assets and debts of the former parishes will be assumed by the newly created parishes, which will also be responsible for the care of all sacramental records.
The pastors from the merging parishes will form a transitional team made up of lay leaders from each of the merging parishes to assist in moving forward with building the new parish community.
The Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, made up of lay persons, priests and Archdiocesan personnel, is examining all 267 parishes within the Archdiocese to gauge their viability and assess whether they possess the resources to accomplish their role in the mission of the Church and remain sustainable and vibrant faith communities. Parishes within each pastoral planning area will continue to carefully and thoughtfully examine their viability in order to make future recommendations. Additional parish announcements are expected in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013 and 2014.
Parish Area Pastoral Planning is designed to be as collaborative and consultative as possible. Its goal is to provide pastors, after consulting their parish leadership, with the opportunity to dialogue with members of the Strategic Planning Committee in providing joint recommendations to the Archbishop for growth and sustainability within their respective geographic areas. Additionally, in the majority of cases, the regional bishop and the dean meet with the pastors as well as their pastoral and finance councils to hear their concerns and receive their recommendations.
The Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee shared all final proposals with the Council of Priests and the College of Consultors for the review before final approval by the Archbishop.
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.
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.
West Oak Lane/East Mount Airy:
Saint Athanasius Parish and Saint Raymond of Peņafort Parish will remain as free standing parishes.
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.
After reviewing all of the recent proposals, the Archbishop directed that the merger plans for the following parishes receive more input, broader consultation and further study:
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.
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.
Editor's Note: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 44 Pastoral Planning Areas (PPAs). It is expected that the first 22 PPAs will complete the work of planning and implementation over the next two years and that additional two years will be required for the remainder of the PPAs. For more information on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning, please visit www.archphila.org.
Director of Communications