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May 26, 2013

ARCHDIOCESE ANNOUNCES PARISH MERGER IN
LOWER NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA RESULTING FROM
PASTORAL PLANNING INITIATIVE


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 merge parishes in the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia.

This merger is the result of ongoing restructuring that will ultimately strengthen parish communities throughout the Archdiocese positioning them for future growth and sustainability. It is hoped that the result will be revitalized parishes throughout the Archdiocese that are better equipped to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of future generations.

The recommendations and resulting merger 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 decision through letters mailed to all registered parishioners as well as announcements made at all Masses this weekend.

The merger announced today was 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.

In each instance, parishioners will attend daily and Sunday Mass at the church of the newly formed parish. The church of the former parish will remain open and be maintained as a worship site. At the discretion of the pastor, this will be utilized for weddings, funerals and feast days, as well as traditional and ethnic devotions for the time being. 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 parish will be assumed by the newly created parish, 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 Archdiocese will provide ongoing guidance and support during the transition process.

The Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, made up of lay persons, priests and Archdiocesan personnel, is examining all 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 later this month and in the spring of 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 their review before final approval by the Archbishop.

Parish Announcements Effective July 1, 2013:

Upper Northeast Philadelphia:
All Saints Parish (Bridesburg) and Saint John Cantius Parish (Bridesburg) will merge at the location of and keep the name of Saint John Cantius Parish. The All Saints church building will remain as a worship site for the time being.

When these mergers become effective there will be 250 parishes in the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

It is important to note that the effective date listed for these mergers is set for canonical purposes. The actual work of the transition to a new parish community is an ongoing one that will take varying lengths of time dependent upon the unique circumstances of each merger and needs of each parish. The Archdiocese will provide ongoing guidance and support to all parishes throughout the transitional process.

Earlier this year, Archbishop Chaput directed that the merger plans for the parishes listed below receive more input, broader consultation and further study.

North Philadelphia: Holy Innocents (Juniata Park/Feltonville), Mater Dolorosa (Frankford), Saint Joachim (Frankford), and Saint Joan of Arc (Richmond) began further study in February 2013. Final decisions are expected later this month.

West Philadelphia: Saint Barbara (Wynnefield) and Saint Rose of Lima (Haddington/Carroll Park) parishes began further study in February 2013. Final decisions are expected later this month.

Previous Announcements:

In January and February 2013, the Archdiocese announced parish mergers resulting from the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative in North Philadelphia and West Philadelphia. Additional information regarding those mergers can be found at http://archphila.org/conversion/conversion_index.php.

Last year, the Archdiocese announced initial rounds of parish mergers resulting from the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative in Coatesville and Phoenixville in Chester County as well as the Germanton, Harrowgate, and Manayunk sections of Philadelphia. Additional information regarding those mergers can also be found at http://archphila.org/conversion/conversion_index.php.

Future Announcements:

In September 2012, the following additional parishes began the Parish Area Pastoral Planning process:

Philadelphia: Holy Name of Jesus (Fishtown/Northern Liberties), Saint Agnes-Saint John Nepomucene (Fishtown/Northern Liberties), Saint Augustine (Center City East), Saint Bartholomew (Frankford), Saint Bernard (Mayfair), Saint Laurentius (Fishtown/Northern Liberties), Saint Michael (Fishtown/Northern Liberties), Saint Leo the Great (Tacony/Wissanoming), Old Saint Joseph's (Center City East), Old Saint Mary's (Center City East), Our Lady of Consolation (Tacony/Wissanoming), Saint Matthew (Mayfair), Saint Peter the Apostle (Fishtown/Northern Liberties), and Saint Timothy (Mayfair). Final decisions regarding parish mergers in these areas are expected later this month.

Delaware County: Blessed Virgin Mary (Darby), Holy Savior (Linwood), Immaculate Conception (Marcus Hook), Our Lady of Charity (Brookhaven), Saint Alice (Upper Darby), Saint Cyril of Alexandria (East Lansdowne), Saint Francis de Sales (Lenni), Saint John Fisher (Boothwyn), Saint Joseph (Aston), Saint Katharine Drexel (Chester), Saint Laurence (Upper Darby), Saint Louis (Yeadon), and Saint Philomena (Lansdowne). Final decisions regarding parish mergers in this area are expected later this month.

Last April, Archbishop Chaput directed that the merger plans for the following parishes receive more input, broader consultation and further study:

Philadelphia: Holy Cross Parish (East Mount Airy), Saint Benedict Parish (Ogontz/Belfield), Saint Madeleine Sophie Parish (West Mount Airy), and Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (West Mount Airy) Parishes will be studied further. That process began in September 2012. Final decisions are expected later this month.

Background on Philadelphia Parish Announcements Effective July 1, 2013

**A parish is always more than statistics as they do not represent the whole of parish life. They were only one part of the larger picture when developing recommendations for parish mergers. They do, however, provide a snapshot of a parish's sacramental activity and a gauge to project stability, growth or decline.**


All Saints and Saint John Cantius Parishes (Philadelphia)
All Saints Parish and Saint John Cantius Parish will merge at the location of and keep the name of Saint John Cantius Parish. The two parishes are located 0.3 miles away from each other.

The All Saints church building will remain as a worship site. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements later this month.

As a result of the merger, the newly formed parish is projected to have over 4,900 registered parishioners and approximately 900 regular attendees at Sunday Mass.

All Saints Parish:       
Year 2007 2011
Infant Baptisms 37 41
Marriages 18 7
Weekend Mass attendance 344 245

Saint John Cantius Parish:       
Year 2007 2011
Infant Baptisms 29 37
Marriages 11 17
Weekend Mass attendance 600 635

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Editor’s Note: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 44 Pastoral Planning Areas (PPAs). It is expected that the remainder of the first 22 PPAs will complete the work of planning and implementation over the next 15 months. An additional two years will be required for the remainder of the PPAs. For more information on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning, please visit http://archphila.org/conversion/conversion_index.php.


Contact
Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications
215-587-3747

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