Camden diocese to close or merge 58 parishes

April 3, 2008 9:03:19 PM PDT
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden announced a consolidation plan Thursday that will reduce the number of parishes from 124 to 66. Under the restructuring program, there will be 38 merged parishes, three "clusters" involving six parishes and 22 stand-alone parishes. The changes will take effect over the next two years, officials said.

In the six South Jersey counties the diocese serves, there now are 124 parishes which serve an estimated 450,000 Catholics.

However, church officials said only about 25 percent of Catholics in the diocese attend Mass regularly.

"While Catholic population is increasing overall, in many instances it has shifted out of former Catholic population centers into other parts of the diocese," Bishop Joseph Galante said in announcing the reconfiguration. He said the demographic shift means the diocese has parish facilities "that are in close proximity to each other, but are now underutilized and aging."

Galante said the number of "worship sites" within the diocese would vary, with some buildings serving as "primary, year-round sites" while others would become secondary sites and mission sites. And some shore area sites may only be used in the summer.

The diocese said creating the church clusters would allow parishes to retain their identities and share a priest or team of priests. And some churches may be led by a "director of parish life" instead of a priest.

The diocese is among many nationwide that have been dealing with shrinking Mass attendance, a shortage of priests and financial problems largely because of changing demographic patterns.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, officials in the Paterson Diocese have said they're planning similar moves. Pastors of the 16 parishes there have until June to recommend changes.

More information will be available on the diocese website at www.camdendiocese.org, but heavy traffic has made accessing the website difficult for most of the day.

Parish reorganization from the text of the bishop's speech:

In Deanery I:

* Merge the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Camden), Holy Name (Camden) and Our Lady of Mount Carmel/Fatima (Camden), with the primary worship site at the Cathedral and a secondary worship site at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel/Fatima Church.

* Merge St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral (Camden), St. Cecilia (Pennsauken) and St. Veronica (Delair), with the worship site at St.Joseph-Pro Cathedral.

* Merge St. Joan of Arc (Camden) and St. Bartholomew (Camden) with the worship site at St. Joan of Arc.

* Cluster the new parish at St. Joan of Arc (Camden) with Sacred Heart (Camden).

* St. Anthony of Padua (Camden) and St. Joseph Polish (Camden) will remain as stand-alone parishes.

In Deanery II, it is my intention to:

* Merge Holy Saviour (Westmont), St. John (Collingwood) and Transfiguration (West Collingswood), with the primary worship site at St. John and a second worship site at Holy Saviour.

* Merge St. Aloysius (Oaklyn) and St. Vincent Pallotti (Haddon Township) with the worship site at St. Aloysius.

* Merge Annunciation (Bellmawr), St. Anne (Westville) and St. Maurice (Brooklawn), with the worship site at Annunciation.

* Merge Sacred Heart (Mount Ephraim) and Holy Maternity (Audubon), with the worship site at Sacred Heart.

* St. Stephen (Pennsauken), St. Mary (Gloucester), Immaculate Heart of Mary (Woodlynne) and St. Peter (Merchantville) will remain stand-alone parishes.

In Deanery III, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Peter Celestine (Cherry Hill) and Queen of Heaven (Cherry Hill), with the worship site at St. Peter Celestine.

* Merge St. Pius X (Cherry Hill) and Holy Rosary (Cherry Hill), with the worship site at St. Pius X.

* Cluster St. Mary (Cherry Hill) and St. Thomas More (Cherry Hill)

* Christ the King (Haddonfield) and St. Andrew (Gibbsboro) will remain stand-alone parishes.

In Deanery IV, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Lawrence (Lindenwold), St. Luke (Stratford) and Our Lady of Grace (Somerdale), with the primary worship site at St. Lawrence and a second worship site at St. Luke.

* Merge Mary Mother of the Church (Bellmawr) with St. Francis De Sales (Barrington) and St. Gregory (Magnolia), with the primary worship site at Mary Mother of the Church and a secondary worship site at St. Francis De Sales.

* Merge St. Teresa (Runnemede) and St. Maria Goretti (Runnemede), with the worship site at St. Teresa.

* St. Rose of Lima (Haddon Heights) will remain a stand-alone parish.

In Deanery V, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Agnes (Blackwood) and St. Jude (Blackwood), with the worship site at St. Agnes.

* Merge St. Mary (Williamstown) and St. John Neumann (Sicklerville), with the worship site at St. Mary.

* Merge Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Berlin) and St. Edward (Pine Hill), along with its mission of Mater Ecclesiae (Berlin), with the primary worship site at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mater Ecclesiae will remain a worship site, continuing its mission.

* Holy Family (Sewell), St. Charles Borromeo (Sicklerville) and SS. Peter and Paul (Turnersville) will remain stand-alone parishes.

In Deanery VI, it is my intention to:

* Merge Corpus Christi (Carneys Point), Queen of the Apostles (Pennsville), St. Mary (Salem) and St. James (Penns Grove) with primary worship sites at Corpus Christi and Queen of the Apostles, and, because of its historical significance, St. Mary will remain a secondary worship site.

* Merge Holy Name (Mullica Hill), St. Joseph (Woodstown) and St. Ann (Elmer), with worship sites initially at both at Holy Name and St. Joseph, as Holy Name is in the process of building a new church.

* Merge St. Michael (Gibbstown), St. Joseph (Swedesboro) and St. John the Evangelist (Paulsboro), with worship sites at St. Michael and St. Joseph.

In Deanery VII, it is my intention to:

* Merge Our Lady of Lourdes (Glassboro) and Queen of Peace (Pitman), with the primary worship site at Our Lady of Lourdes and a secondary site at Queen of Peace.

* Merge St. Patrick (Woodbury), St. Matthew (National Park) and Most Holy Redeemer (Westville Grove), with the primary worship site at St. Patrick and a secondary site at St. Matthew.

* Merge Nativity (Franklinville), St. Bridget (Glassboro) and St. Catherine (Clayton), with worship sites at Nativity and St. Bridget, particularly for the Spanish community.

* Merge St. Margaret (Woodbury Heights) and St. John Vianney (Deptford), with the worship site at St. Margaret.

* Incarnation (Mantua) will remain a stand-alone parish.

In Deanery VIII, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Teresa of Avila (Bridgeton), Immaculate Conception (Bridgeton), St. Michael (Cedarville) and St. Mary (Rosenhayn), with primary worship sites at St. Teresa and St. Mary. Worship sites will remain at Immaculate Conception, particularly for the Hispanic community, and at St. Michael.

* Merge St. Francis Assisi (Vineland) and Immaculate Heart of Mary (Vineland), with the worship site at St. Francis.

* Merge St. Mary Magdalen (Millville), St. Anthony Mission (Port Norris), and St. John Bosco (Millville), with the worship site at St. Mary Magdalen.

* Merge St. Isidore (Vineland) and Sacred Heart (Vineland), with the primary worship site at St. Isidore and a secondary worship site at Sacred Heart.

* St. Padre Pio (Vineland) will remain a stand-alone parish.

In Deanery IX, where we have so many of our shore parishes, shore worship sites will remain in order to continue to serve large summer populations. However, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Augustine (Ocean City), St. Frances Cabrini (Ocean City) and Our Lady of Good Counsel (Ocean City), with the primary worship site at St. Augustine. St. Francis will continue to be a worship site for Hispanic liturgy. All three churches will remain as worship sites through the summer and shoulder months of fall and spring.

* Merge Maris Stella (Avalon) and St. Paul (Stone Harbor), with the primary worship site at Maris Stella and a secondary worship site at St. Paul.

* Merge St. Ann (Wildwood) and Assumption (Wildwood Crest), with the worship site at St. Ann. Assumption will continue as a secondary site for summer tourists.

* Merge Resurrection (Marmora) and St. Casimir (Woodbine), which includes St. Elizabeth Mission (Goshen), retaining worship sites at Resurrection and St. Casimir. Bishop McHugh Regional School remains a summer worship site.

* Merge St. John of God (North Cape May) and St. Raymond (Villas), retaining both worship sites for now.

* Our Lady Star of the Sea (Cape May), which includes St. Agnes Mission (Cape May), Our Lady of the Angels (Cape May Court House) and St. Joseph (Sea Isle City) will remain stand-alone parishes.

In Deanery X, it is my intention to:

* Merge Our Lady Star of the Sea (Atlantic City) and Holy Spirit (Atlantic City) at Our Lady Star of the Sea.

* Cluster Our Lady Star of the Sea (Atlantic City), St. Michael (Atlantic City) and St. Monica (Atlantic City) under the care of a Priest Team. All of the worship sites will be retained.

* Merge Blessed Sacrament (Margate), St. James (Ventnor) and Epiphany (Longport), with the primary worship site at Blessed Sacrament and summer worship sites at St. James and Epiphany.

* St. Nicholas of Tolentine (Atlantic City) will remain a stand-alone personal parish for hospitality workers and visitors.

In Deanery XI, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Bernadette (Northfield) and St. Peter (Pleasantville), with St. Bernadette as the worship site.

* Merge Assumption (Pomona) and St. Nicholas (Egg Harbor City), with the primary worship site at Assumption and a second worship site at St. Nicholas for Hispanic parishioners.

* Merge St. Katharine Drexel (Egg Harbor Township) and St. Vincent DePaul (Mays Landing), including St. Bernard Mission (Dorothy), initially maintaining worship sites at St. Katharine Drexel and St. Vincent DePaul until a new church is constructed at the St. Katharine Drexel site.

* St. Joseph (Somers Point), St. Thomas the Apostle (Brigantine), St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Absecon) and Our Lady of Sorrows (Linwood) will remain stand-alone parishes.

In Deanery XII, it is my intention to:

* Merge St. Joseph (Hammonton), St. Martin de Porres (Hammonton) and St. Anthony (Hammonton), with a primary worship site at St. Joseph, and a second worship site at St. Martin de Porres.

* Merge Assumption (Atco), Blessed John XXIII (Blue Anchor), along with its missions of St. Lucy and Sacred Heart (Cedarbrook), and St. Anthony (Waterford), with the primary worship site at Assumption, and a second worship site at Sacred Heart Church.

* Merge Queen of Angels, Landisville (which includes the churches of St. Michael, Minotola and Our Lady of Victories, Landisville), St. Rose of Lima (Newfield), Our Lady of the Lakes (Collings Lakes) and St. Mary (Malaga) with primary worship sites at St. Rose of Lima and St. Michael (Minotola), which is a church of Queen of Angels parish (Landisville), and a secondary worship site at Our Lady of the Lakes.

UNCHANGED CHURCHES

-- St. Anthony of Padua in Camden
-- St. Joseph in Camden
-- St Stephen in Pennsauken
-- St. Mary in Gloucester
-- Immaculate Heart of Mary in Woodlynne
-- St. Peter of Merchantville
-- Christ the King in Haddonfield
-- St. Andrew in Gibbsboro
-- St. Rose of Lima in Haddon Heights
-- Holy Family in Sewell
-- St. Charles Borromeo in Sicklerville
-- Sts. Pete and Paul in Turnersville
-- Incarnation in Mantua
-- St. Padre Pio in Vineland
-- Our Lady of the Sea in Cape May (including St. Agnes Mission in Cape May)
-- Our Lady of the Angels in Cape May Court House
-- St Joseph in Sea Isle City
-- St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Atlantic City will remain a stand-alone personal parish for hospitality workers and visitors
-- St. Joseph in Somers Point
-- St. Thomas the Apostle in Brigantine
-- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Absecon
-- Our Lady of Sorrows in Linwood


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