Archbishop Charles Chaput has accepted the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee’s recommendations to merge the four Catholic parishes of Phoenixville, Chester County, into two.
The announcement was made Sunday, June 3 and read in the affected churches at weekend Masses.
Holy Trinity Parish, founded in 1903 to serve Polish Catholics, will merge with St. Mary of the Assumption Parish at the location of St. Mary. The two churches are located within a block of each other on Dayton Street in the borough.
Sacred Heart Parish, traditionally for Slovaks and founded in 1900, will merge with St. Ann Parish at its location at 3rd Avenue and Main Street. Those churches are located within a mile of each other.
The recommendations and mergers for Pastoral Planning Area (PPA) 210, which includes Phoenixville, are the result of an archdiocesan-wide parish pastoral planning initiative that began in 2011.
Many factors contributed to recently announced parish mergers, including demographic shifts in Catholic populations, decreases in available priests to staff parishes, numerous parishes within the same geographical areas, declining Mass attendance and sacramental activity and economic challenges that threaten sustainability.
In April, decisions were announced regarding parish mergers in the Manayunk and Germantown sections of Philadelphia, and in Coatesville, Chester County. At that time, it was deemed necessary to examine the parish needs in Phoenixville for an extended period of time.
As with the other announced mergers, although the names of the host churches are remaining the same, they will be newly formed parish communities, with establishment dates of July 1, 2012.
Parishioners of the newly formed parishes will attend weekend and daily Masses at the established church of the parish. The church buildings of the former parishes – in Phoenixville, Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart — will remain in use as worship sites.
At the pastor’s discretion, these sites may be utilized for weddings, funerals and feast days, as well as traditional and ethnic devotions, for at least one year during the transition.
Weekend Masses may also be celebrated as needed at the worship sites at the discretion of the pastor and parish council.
The responsibility for all parish properties, assets and debts will be assumed by the newly created parishes, as well as the care of all sacramental records. Transitional teams, made up of lay leaders of each of the merging parishes, will be formed by the pastors to help form the new parish communities.
The Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, comprised of lay persons, priests and archdiocesan personnel, will examine all parishes within the five-county Archdiocese to determine whether they possess the resources to accomplish their role in the mission of the Church, and to remain vibrant and sustainable communities of faith.
Parish area pastoral planning is designed to be collaborative and consultative. Its goal is to provide pastors and parish councils the opportunity to dialogue with the Strategic Planning Committee to provide joint recommendations to the Archbishop with regard to growth and sustainability within their respective geographic areas.
Regional auxiliary bishops and deans also play a key role in meeting with pastors and parish councils to form such proposals.
“Additional parish planning announcements are expected in the spring of 2013 and 2014,” said Kenneth Gavin, archdiocesan spokesman.
Background on Phoenixville parish announcements
effective July 1, 2012
Holy Trinity Parish and St. Mary of the Assumption Parish will merge at the location of and keep the name of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish. The two parishes are located directly across the street from one another. Holy Trinity Church will remain as a worship site. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements in the coming weeks.
|Holy Trinity Parish
(founded in 1903):
|Weekend Mass attendance||446||373|
|St. Mary of the Assumption Parish
(founded in 1840):
|Weekend Mass attendance||513||511|
Sacred Heart Parish and St. Ann Parish will merge at the location of and keep the name of St. Ann Parish. The two parishes are less than 0.75 miles away from each other. Sacred Heart Church will remain as a worship site. The pastor of the newly formed parish will be appointed with the regular priest personnel announcements in the coming weeks.
|Sacred Heart Parish
(founded in 1900):
|Weekend Mass attendance||565||477|
|St. Ann Parish
(founded in 1905):
|Weekend Mass attendance||1,359||1,334