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June 14, 2015

ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA ANNOUNCES CLOSURE
OF THREE WORSHIP SITES




Incarnation of Our Lord Church, Our Mother of Sorrows, and Holy Saviour Church will no
longer serve as worship sites of Saint Helena Parish, Sacred Heart Parish and Saint John Fisher
Parish, respectively, and will close as Roman Catholic Churches


Contextual Background

Incarnation of Our Lord Parish Merges with Saint Helena Parish (July 2013)
In July 2013, Incarnation of Our Lord Parish merged with Saint Helena Parish, both located in North Philadelphia's Olney neighborhood, 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 Saint Helena.

At that time, the Incarnation of Our Lord Church building became a worship site of the newly formed Saint Helena Parish and was available for the occasional celebration of Mass as well as funerals, weddings and baptisms 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/press%20releases/pr002178.php


Our Mother of Sorrows Parish Closes (2001)
Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, Bridgeport (Montgomery County), was closed in 2001. At that time it, was merged into Saint Augustine Parish, Bridgeport (Montgomery County), which took ownership of the former Our Mother of Sorrows Parish church. This church became the responsibility of Sacred Heart Parish, Bridgeport (Montgomery County), in 2014 when Saint Augustine Parish was merged into Sacred Heart Parish. The Our Mother of Sorrows church has been unused for an extended period of time.


Holy Saviour Parish Merges with Saint John Fisher Parish (July 2013)
In July 2013, Holy Saviour Parish, Linwood (Delaware County), merged with Saint John Fisher Parish, Boothwyn (Delaware 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 Saint John Fisher Parish.

At that time, the Holy Saviour church building became a worship site of the newly formed Saint John Fisher Parish and was available for the occasional celebration of Mass as well as funerals, weddings and baptisms 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/press%20releases/pr002178.php


Today's Announcement
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. relegated the Incarnation of Our Lord Church building, the Our Mother of Sorrows Church building and the Holy Saviour Church building to profane but not sordid use effective July 15, 2015. This formal, canonical designation means that the churches will no longer serve as worship sites and will close as Roman Catholic churches.

This information was shared with Saint Helena, Sacred Heart and Saint John Fisher 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/conversion/conversion_index.php.


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.

Incarnation of Our Lord Church

The Incarnation of Our Lord church building would requires extensive repairs that preclude further use. A September 2013 fa´┐Żade report by an independent engineering firm showed that the church requires approximately $263,000 of necessary masonry repairs within two to three years. Additionally, the building is in need of repairs to the roof and interior significantly above routine deferred maintenance costs. These issues represent an expense that Saint Helena Parish cannot absorb and one that would jeopardize the stability of parish finances and vital ministerial programs.

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

As such, the former Incarnation of Our Lord church building is the property of Saint Helena Parish. The future disposition of this building will be determined by the pastor of Saint Helena Parish in consultation with his parish pastoral and finance councils in a manner consistent with providing for continued parish viability and sustainability.


Our Mother of Sorrows Church

Our Mother of Sorrows is located on the middle floor of a three story structure that is in a serious state of disrepair. Issues present include a dangerous mold problem, peeling and hazardous lead based paint on interior walls, an inadequate electrical system, walls that are bulging and cracking, and a sink hole that has undermined a portion of the basement floor. With the responsibility of maintaining three other churches, along with other parish buildings, Sacred Heart Parish does not have the financial resources to repair and maintain the Our Mother of Sorrows building.

When Our Mother of Sorrows closed, all real estate holdings, assets and debts of the former Our Mother of Sorrows Parish were transferred to Sacred Heart Parish. These transfers are part of standard procedure in the case of all parish mergers.

As such, the former Our Mother of Sorrows church building is the property of Sacred Heart Parish. The future disposition of this building will be determined by the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in consultation with his parish pastoral and finance councils in a manner consistent with providing for continued parish viability and sustainability.


Holy Saviour Church

A February 2011 inspection by an independent engineering firm showed that an estimated $152,000 in repairs were essential for the church building within five years. Repair work never commenced as the parish lacked the needed funds. With the passage of time, conditions have worsened and the projected costs have risen. Additionally, the church building sits on the same plot of land as the former rectory and former school, which, without subdivision, would together require approximately $600,000 in repairs in the near future.

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

As such, the former Holy Saviour church building is the property of Saint John Fisher Parish. The future disposition of this building will be determined by the pastor of Saint John Fisher 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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Contact
Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications
215-587-3747

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