Archdiocese Announces Decision in Pastoral Planning Initiative for Two Parishes in the City of Philadelphia

Resurrection of Our Lord Parish (Rhawnhurst) and Our Lady of Ransom Parish (Oxford Circle)
will merge effective June 19, 2017.

Today’s Announcement

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has reviewed recommendations of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee and made a decision to merge two parishes in the City of Philadelphia.

Resurrection of Our Lord Parish (Rhawnhurst) will merge with Our Lady of Ransom Parish (Oxford Circle) effective June 19, 2017. They will merge at the location and keep the name of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish. Our Lady of Ransom will remain open as a place for worship on certain occasions.   

The current pastors of Resurrection of Our Lord and Our Lady of Ransom Parishes have been reassigned.  Reverend James R. DeGrassa has been named pastor for the newly merged parish.

Background Regarding Today’s Announcement

The pastors plus six representatives from Our Lady of Ransom, eight representatives from Resurrection of Our Lord, three representatives of the Portuguese Apostolate which celebrates Mass at Resurrection, and a representative from the Deaf Apostolate met over the course of several months to discuss how their parishes could collaborate in the coming years with an eye to sustainability.  The models of parish collaboration discussed were merger, by which two or more parishes are completely combined into one parish, and partnership, by which the pastoral leadership and administration of the parishes are combined, but they otherwise remain as separate parishes. 

After reviewing the report prepared by the Area Pastoral Planning Committee, the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee and the Archdiocesan Council of Priests recommended that the parishes be merged. This proposal was thoroughly reviewed by Archbishop Chaput, who gave his approval. The plan will become effective on June 19.

The merger being announced today is due to a number of factors including a shift in Catholic population, a high density of parishes in a small area, as well as declines in Mass attendance, Sacramental activity, the availability of priests to staff parishes, and a review of facilities.

In each instance of a merger, parishioners will attend daily and Sunday Mass at the church of the newly formed parish. The church(es) of the former parish(es) remain sacred places for worship. These churches can be utilized for Masses, weddings, funerals and feast days, as well as traditional and ethnic devotions at the discretion of the pastor and the newly formed pastoral council and depending upon the availability of clergy.

Additionally, all parish property, assets and debts of any former parish will be assumed by the newly formed parish, which will also be responsible for the care of all sacramental records. The  pastor of the newly merged parish will form a transitional team made up of lay leaders from each of the merging parishes to assist in moving forward with forming the new parish community. The Archdiocese will provide ongoing guidance and support during the transition process.

When this merger becomes effective there will be 216 parishes in the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The pastors assigned to all of the newly formed parishes were publicly announced this weekend with the regular priest personnel assignments. A complete list of those assignments can be found at

*It is important to note that the effective date listed for these mergers is set for Canonical (Church law) 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 the needs of each parish. *

*The statistics presented below 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.*

City of Philadelphia Parish Announcement Effective June 19, 2017:

Resurrection of Our Lord and Our Lady of Ransom Parishes (PPA 520) 
Resurrection of Our Lord and Our Lady of Ransom Parishes will merge at the location and keep the name of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish. The two parishes are located less than two miles from each another. The Our Lady of Ransom church building will become a worship site of the newly formed parish.

As a result of the merger, the newly formed parish is projected to have over 6987 registered parishioners and approximately 1884 regular attendees at Sunday Mass.

Resurrection of Our Lord Parish:









Weekend Mass attendance



Registered Population



Registered Households




Our Lady of Ransom Parish:









Weekend Mass attendance



Registered Population



Registered Households




Contextual Background on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Process

In the Fall of 2010, a pastoral letter was issued to parishioners throughout the Archdiocese.  It outlined the necessity of an in-depth examination of all parishes in order to gauge whether they possessed the necessary resources to remain vibrant and sustainable faith communities.  This process, known as Parish Area Pastoral Planning, is designed to be as collaborative and consultative as possible. 

The pastor and three representatives from each parish taking part will comprise the local area pastoral planning committee.   This committee will submit perceived positive and negative aspects of the partnership model and merger model for these parishes. The meetings of the committees will begin in the coming weeks.

The goal is to provide pastors, after consulting their lay parish leadership and parishioners, with the opportunity to dialogue with members of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee in providing comments for parish growth and sustainability within their respective geographic areas.

During the process additional steps are taken to be as inclusive as possible.  In the majority of cases, the regional bishop and dean meet with pastors as well as their pastoral and finance councils to hear their opinions, which are brought before the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, the Council of Priests and the College of Consultors for their observations and recommendations.  Input and consultation from of all these groups is provided to the Archbishop, who makes the final decisions. 


Editor’s Note: For more information on the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative, please visit