Archdiocese Announces Initial Round of Parish Mergers Resulting from Pastoral Planning Initiative
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 Peñafort 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.
**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.**
Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Cecilia Parishes (Coatesville, Chester County)
Saint Cecilia Parish will merge with Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, which has a large seating capacity, excellent facilities and is fiscally stable. The two parishes are 1.2 miles away from each other. The merger will also allow for a strengthened outreach to the Hispanic community in the area. Saint Cecilia Church will remain as a worship site. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements in May.
|Our Lady of the Rosary Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||905||774|
|Saint Cecilia Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||783||656|
Saint Joseph and Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parishes (Coatesville, Chester County)
Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish, which has a significant operating deficit, will merge with Saint Joseph Parish, which continues to serve a growing Hispanic population through multiple programs. The two parishes are 0.3 miles away from each other Saint Stanislaus Kostka church will remain as a worship site. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements in May.
|Saint Joseph Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||349||226|
|Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||249||188|
Immaculate Conception, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Vincent de Paul Parishes (Germantown)
Immaculate Conception Parish and Saint Francis of Assisi Parish and will merge with Saint Vincent de Paul Parish. The three parishes, which are less than 1.25 miles from each other, are staffed by the Vincentian Fathers. The Vincentians recently indicated that they need to reduce the number of priests in that area from three to two. The planned mergers have taken into account the spiritual and social service needs provided by the parishes currently. It is hoped that a centralized parish organization will better serve the people of Germantown.
Neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Saint Francis of Assisi church buildings will be maintained as worship sites. Both churches require serious physical improvements for which the parishes have no funds. Both parishes have relied heavily on Archdiocesan subsidies for several years. All parish assets, debts, buildings, and sacramental records will be transferred to the newly formed parish. The name of this parish will be Saint Vincent de Paul. The Vincentian pastor of the newly formed parish will be announced shortly.
|Immaculate Conception Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||195||220|
|Saint Francis of Assisi Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||199||101|
|Saint Vincent de Paul Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||310||325|
Holy Family and Saint Lucy Parishes (Manayunk)
Saint Lucy Parish, which has a significant operating deficit, will merge with Holy Family Parish, which is located less than half a mile away. The local regional Catholic elementary school is also located at Holy Family Parish. The Saint Lucy church will remain open as a worship site. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements in May.
|Holy Family Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||518||422|
|Saint Lucy Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||243||214|
Saint John the Baptist, Saint Josaphat and Saint Mary of the Assumption Parishes (Manayunk)
Saint Josaphat Parish along with Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish will merge with Saint John the Baptist Parish, which is less than .25 miles away. Saint John the Baptist has the largest church building in the area and is the Mother Church of Manayunk. Saint Josaphat church and Saint Mary of the Assumption church will remain open as worship sites. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements in May.
|Saint John the Baptist Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||738||748|
|Saint Josaphat Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||314||198|
|Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||259||276|
Holy Trinity, Sacred Heart, Saint Ann and Saint Mary of the Assumption Parishes (Phoenixville, Chester County)
The merger plan for these parishes will be studied further to obtain more input and broader consultation. A final decision is expected within the next few months.
The merger plan for these parishes will be studied further to obtain more input and broader consultation. A final decision is 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.
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