Philadelphia archdiocese announces plan to merge parishes

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Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says parishes should emerge stronger from a planned reorganization, involving a series of mergers that were announced April 15.

“Restructuring our parishes will be a challenge for many families and individuals. Change is rarely easy,” acknowledged Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

“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.”

On Sunday, Archbishop Chaput announced his approval of recommendations by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, involving the merger of parishes in Coatesville, Germantown, and Manayunk. The plans will take effect July 1.

Members of the merging parishes learned of the decision by letter, and through announcements at Mass over the weekend. Factors cited for the reorganization included demographic changes, declining Mass attendance economic challenges, and a shortage of clergy.

In its April 15 public announcement, the archdiocese expressed hope that the restructuring “will result in revitalized parishes … that are better equipped to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of future generations.”

It is hoped that the changes “will ultimately strengthen parish communities, positioning them for future growth and sustainability.”

While affected parishioners will attend Mass at the site of their newly-formed parishes, some of the buildings no longer housing parish communities will be maintained as places of worship. These sites may be used for occasions such as funerals, weddings, and feast days.

Other locations, however, will be closed – due in some cases to the condition of facilities and communities' inability to maintain them.

Philadelphia's Archdiocese Strategic Planning Committee says it is “examining all 267 parishes within the Archdiocese to gauge their viability and assess whether they possess the resources to accomplish their role in the mission of the Church and remain sustainable and vibrant faith communities.”

It expects to announce further details about Philadelphia parishes in fall of 2012, spring of 2013, and in 2014.

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