The Archdiocese of Philadelphia plans to close three NE Philly churches

Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joachim, in Frank­ford, and St. Leo, in Ta­cony are slated for clos­ure. Par­ish lead­ers at St. Leo are plan­ning to fight the de­cision.

The Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia will close three Cath­ol­ic churches in the North­east: Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joachim, in Frank­ford, and St. Leo, in Ta­cony.

The churches re­ceived no­tice in emails on Wed­nes­day. The arch­diocese will not form­ally make the an­nounce­ments un­til Sunday.

Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joachim, along with Har­rowg­ate’s St. Joan of Arc, will close, with pa­rish­ion­ers dir­ec­ted to Ju­ni­ata’s Holy In­no­cents.

St. Leo will close and merge in­to Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion, loc­ated on Prin­ceton Av­en­ue in Ta­cony.

Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion, East May­fair’s St. Bern­ard and Wissi­nom­ing’s, St. Bartho­lomew — all of which seemed to be in jeop­ardy of clos­ing — will re­main open.

Ma­ter Dol­orosa was foun­ded in 1911. St. Joachim, foun­ded in 1845, is the old­est Cath­ol­ic par­ish in the North­east. St. Leo was foun­ded in 1884.

St. Leo will not go down without a fight.

The Rev. Joseph Far­rell, the pas­tor, aler­ted mem­bers of the fin­ance and pas­tor­al coun­cils of the arch­diocese’s de­cision.

Par­ish lead­ers will hold a news con­fer­ence and rally after Sunday’s 11:30 a.m. Mass. They are ex­pec­ted to ar­gue that St. Leo has no debt and, there­fore, should not close.

The arch­diocese has been mon­it­or­ing the Mass at­tend­ance, mar­riages, bap­tisms and fin­an­cial status at churches for some time. Pa­rish­ion­ers have been bra­cing for fi­nal de­cisions.

The Rev. John J. Large, pas­tor at Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joan of Arc, plans to of­fi­cially an­nounce the clos­ings dur­ing his hom­il­ies on Sat­urday and Sunday.

“At least with my par­ishes, it won’t be a sur­prise,” he said.

In 2003, the arch­diocese closed Ma­ter Dol­orosa, St. Joachim and St. Joan of Arc ele­ment­ary schools, with chil­dren sent to Holy In­no­cents. The stated reas­on was de­clin­ing en­roll­ment.

St. Leo Ele­ment­ary School closed in 2005, and stu­dents were in­vited to at­tend any school they wished. Plan­et Aba­cus, a charter school, uses the school build­ing.

On Fri­day, pas­tors will gath­er at the arch­diocese’s Cen­ter City headquar­ters to learn wheth­er they and their pa­ro­chi­al vicars will re­ceive new as­sign­ments. ••

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