Another round of parish mergers for Philly area Catholics

PHILADELPHIA - June 1, 2013

The word started to spread slowly across the community this weekend. Dozens of parish mergers impacting thousands of parishioners like the ones at Saint Louis Church in Yeadon, Delaware County.

Parishioner Angela Afilani tells Action News, "I was born here. I was baptized here. I went to grade school at Saint Louis. It's sad, it's sad but things change."

Saturday, during 5:00 p.m. mass, members learned in a few weeks nearby Blessed Virgin Mary would take over Saint Louis' assets, debts, buildings and records. The Philadelphia Archdiocese says it will be a similar merger for several other parishes - nearly 40 will be affected in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties.

"I was disappointed but I understand the point," said Sue Hoffman of Yeadon.

The archdiocese cited economic challenges, a decrease in mass attendance, and a review of facilities as some of the reasons for the "ongoing restructuring that will ultimately strengthen parish communities."

The hope is for "revitalized parishes throughout the Archdiocese that are better equipped to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of future generations."

Maureen Ketchum of Upper Darby explains, "The trouble is not enough people here to support all the parishes and with the lack of vocations to the priesthood. I think that's causing a drain in parish resources."

Members of Saint Alice in Upper Darby learned they'll have to attend mass a mile away at Saint Laurence.

Parishes that are being taken over won't simply close their doors. They will be used for weddings, funerals and feast days with a handful having at least one Sunday mass. That's good news for those who are not ready to move on just yet.

"If they open up some place else and I have to go farther, then I have to go, it's nothing I can do about it," said Lana McCoy of Upper Darby.

We've learned some pastors will retire while others will be shifted around to perform other duties. These mergers, which don't impact schools, are effective July 1st. But the archdiocese says this restructuring will take years to complete.

More details on the mergers are expected to be released by the archdiocese on Sunday.

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