The Archdiocese announced Dec. 6 that Archbishop Charles Chaput relegated the St. Gertrude Church building in West Conshohocken to profane but not sordid use effective Jan. 1, 2016. The church will no longer serve as worship site and will close as a Roman Catholic Church. St. Matthew parishioners were informed of this decision during Masses this past weekend.
In addition, the statement said the St. Gertrude Church building required annual ordinary maintenance costs of approximately $68,000 and excludes deferred maintenance. The former St. Gertrude parish rectory, now vacant, is physically attached to the church and also must be maintained as long as the church is in use. The additional costs associated with these portions of the property are approximately $40,000 annually exclusive of deferred maintenance.
According to the statement, St. Matthew Parish has kept the St. Gertrude Church complex in good repair and is currently able to meet its expenses. However, the growing pastoral needs of the parish have required a commitment to renovate space adjacent to the St. Matthew Parish Church for pastoral, educational, and administrative purposes as well as general parish usage. The commitment to this capital project precludes the ability of the parish to further maintain St. Gertrude Church without negatively impacting the ministries of the parish. Additionally, there have been very few requests to use St. Gertrude Church for public worship.
St. Gertrude’s was founded originally as a chapel of St. Matthew. This was done because it was difficult for people to come to St. Matthew’s on the other side of the Schuylkill River in the era before automobiles.
Although St. Gertrude’s in West Conshohocken was and is relatively small, it became an independent parish in 1888. It was never large, and in 2001 it was twinned with St. Mary, Conshohocken, without a resident pastor.
In 2014, St. Gertrude, St. Mary and nearby SS. Cosmas and Damian all became worship sites of St. Matthew.
Since then there was only one baptism from the congregation, and three funerals were celebrated there. Now it has completely come home to its mother parish.
“It’s painful when you have to announce a worship site and then a closing,” said Father J. Thomas Heron, pastor of St. Matthew. “It was a very good parish, and the people are extremely understanding because they knew it had to come.”