Northeast Times

Local churches to learn their fate on May 31

The Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia is ex­pec­ted to an­nounce on May 31 which churches, if any, will merge or close, and pa­rish­ion­ers at two Frank­ford churches are nervously await­ing the ver­dict.

The Rev. John J. Large, pas­tor of Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joan of Arc par­ishes, said he’s been told about the an­nounce­ment date, but not about the fate of any churches.

Noth­ing of­fi­cial has come from the arch­diocese since Feb. 3, when Arch­bish­op Charles Chaput called for fur­ther in­put and broad­er con­sulta­tion on the fu­tures of Frank­ford’s Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joachim, Har­rowg­ate’s St. Joan of Arc and Ju­ni­ata’s Holy In­no­cents.

Back in 2003, the arch­diocese closed the schools at Ma­ter Dol­orosa, St. Joachim and St. Joan of Arc, and stu­dents were sent to Holy In­no­cents.

Ma­ter Dol­orosa is an Itali­an par­ish at 1676 Ru­an St. St. Joachim, at 1527 Church St., is the old­est par­ish in the North­east, formed in 1845. They are sep­ar­ated only by Frank­ford Av­en­ue, but pa­rish­ion­ers at both churches have not ex­pressed en­thu­si­asm about a mer­ger, since they want either of their par­ishes to be the one to close.

Earli­er spec­u­la­tion had St. Joan of Arc clos­ing, with pa­rish­ion­ers in­vited to re­gister at either Holy In­no­cents or Port Rich­mond’s St. George.

The churches’ fu­ture is un­cer­tain be­cause of de­clin­ing Mass at­tend­ance, mar­riages and bap­tisms, factors that hurt a par­ish’s fin­an­cial state.

Oth­er churches that have been part of the arch­diocese’s Par­ish Pas­tor­al Plan­ning Area ini­ti­at­ive in­clude Wissi­nom­ing’s St. Bartho­lomew; Ta­cony’s St. Leo and Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion; the May­fair area’s St. Timothy, St. Mat­thew and St. Bern­ard; and Brides­burg’s St. John Can­ti­us and All Saints.

St. Mat­thew has a par­ish school and is flour­ish­ing, so it does not ap­pear to be in danger of clos­ing. St. Timothy is home to a re­gion­al school and will likely stay open.

The schools at St. Bartho­lomew, St. Leo, Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion, St. Bern­ard, St. John Can­ti­us and All Saints have all closed. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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