Archbishop Charles Chaput, having been advised by the Strategic Planning Committee, and reviewing all proposals, has announced his final decisions for the first four Pastoral Planning Areas (PPAs) in the Archdiocese that were examined for possible parish mergers and closures. Pastors of involved parishes received phone calls on Tuesday, April 10, informing them of the decisions, and Archbishop Chaput signed the decrees on Wednesday, April 11, and will be implemented on July 1.
“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,” Archbishop Chaput said.
In PPA 540, which includes parishes in the Germantown and Mount Airy sections of Philadelphia, St. Athanasius and St. Raymond of Penafort Parishes will remain as free standing parishes. St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis of Assisi and Immaculate Conception Parishes will merge at the location of St. Vincent de Paul Church. St. Benedict and St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parishes, along with Holy Cross Parish, founded in 1890, and St. Madeleine Sophie Parish, founded in 1925, will be studied further beginning this September. Geographical boundaries have been established for the new St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
In PPA 550, which includes parishes in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary of the Assumption and St. Josaphat Parishes will merge at the location of St. John the Baptist Church. Holy Family and St. Lucy Parishes will merge at the location of Holy Family Church.
In PPA 210, which includes parishes in Phoenixville, Chester County, St. Mary of the Assumption, Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart Parishes require further input and broader consultation. St. Ann Parish, established in 1905, will be added to the study, and a decision is expected by (and possibly before) this fall.
In PPA 240, which includes parishes in Coatesville, Chester County, St. Cecilia and Our Lady of the Rosary Parishes will merge at the location of Our Lady of the Rosary Church. St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Joseph Parishes will merge at the location of St. Joseph Church. Geographical boundaries have been established for the Coatesville parishes.
The key components to successful parish mergers are prayer, vision, hope and leadership. The pastors assigned to the merged parishes will consult with leaders from all affected parishes to create parish and finance councils, parish committees and identify appropriate staffing of all parish ministries. The pastors may utilize church buildings of suppressed parishes as worship sites as pastoral needs deem appropriate.
Msgr. Arthur E. Rodgers, coordinator of archdiocesan planning initiatives, emphasized that parishioners be open to the combination of parishes, but if they feel that recourse is necessary, there are legal steps outlined in canon law. “It is important that parishioners who may be considering an appeal refer to the appropriate guidelines under canon law that were published in the April issue of The (Catholic) Standard & Times,” he said.
According to a press release for the archdiocesan communications office, 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.
Background on Parish Announcements Effective July 1, 2012
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.
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 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 Koska Parish:||2006||2010|
|Weekend Mass attendance||249||188
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|
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 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|
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.