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September 25, 2012


Ascension of Our Lord Parish in Philadelphia to Close Effective October 1st

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has approved the recommendation of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee to close Ascension of Our Lord Parish in the Harrowgate section of Philadelphia after a study lasting several months.

Parishioners of the former Ascension of Our Lord Parish will be welcomed at either Holy Innocents Parish (approximately 1.7 miles away) or Visitation, B.V.M. Parish (approximately 0.9 miles away). These parishes will divide responsibility for all of the assets, debts, buildings and sacramental records of the former-Ascension of Our Lord Parish. Due to serious issues with the physical condition of the Ascension of Our Lord church building, it had not been utilized for quite some time. Masses were being celebrated in the parish rectory and the former school building due to safety issues with the church building and low Mass attendance. The church will not be maintained as a worship site due to lack of funds for needed physical improvements, which are estimated to cost at least $3 million.

This closure is part of the ongoing restructuring efforts, which began in 2011, that will ultimately strengthen parish communities positioning them for future growth and sustainability across the five-county Archdiocese. It is hoped that the end result will be revitalized parishes throughout the Archdiocese that are better equipped to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of future generations.

Parishioners previously learned of this final decision through recent announcements at weekend Masses. This closure, which is effective October 1st, was based on a combination of factors, including, but not limited to 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 the deteriorated condition of facilities.

The Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, made up of lay persons, priests and Archdiocesan personnel, is examining all 257 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 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.

The recommendations of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee are shared with the Council of Priests and the College of Consultors for their review before a final decision is made by the Archbishop.

Background on Parish Announcement Effective October 1, 2012

Ascension of Our Lord Parish (Philadelphia)
A parish is always more than statistics as they do not represent the whole of parish life. The figures presented below were only one part of the larger picture when developing the recommendation for closure of the parish. They do, however, provide a snapshot of a parish's sacramental activity and a gauge to project stability, growth or decline.

Ascension of Our Lord Parish:
Year 2007 2011
Infant Baptisms 17 7
Marriages 4 2
Weekend Mass attendance 391 188


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

Kenneth A. Gavin
Associate Director of Communications

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