St. Mary Parish suppressed, merged
Bishop Joseph Kopacz announced the impending suppression of St. Mary Parish and merger with St. Therese Parish on Friday, February 20, at 5:30 p.m., during a meeting with members of the parish community. Bishop Kopacz made the decision after prayerful discernment with the pastor, parish community, presbyteral council and the engineering firm Laird + Smithers, of information gathered over a period of months as well as consultation of Canon Law. The merger and suppression will be completed by decree in approximately one week. The community will gather for a final Mass at St. Mary Sunday, March 8th.
St. Mary Parish has experienced a decline in membership in recent years, making the cost of repairs unrealistic. The neighborhood, once a thriving community for young families who supported both the parish and a school, has experienced a dramatic decline in population. This was noted almost 9 years ago when St. Mary School merged with Christ the King to create Sister Thea Bowman School.
It has also been discovered that St. Mary’s church building has suffered from structural degradation in recent years including water intrusion as well as foundation and wall cracks. An engineering firm that consulted on the building on behalf of the diocese said that while the structure remains safe at the present time, continued decay should be expected and could render the building unsafe. It would be hard to know when that happens and the safety of the community had to be a priority in this decision.
In order to provide for the care of souls, Bishop Kopacz decided to suppress and merge St. Mary. There are three parishes within three miles of St. Mary, Christ the King, St. Therese and the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Parishioners who live in St. Mary’s parish boundaries are encouraged to become a member of their new parish, St. Therese Church. Those living outside the parish boundaries are encouraged to join the churches where they live. “I know losing a beloved parish church is difficult and this was not a decision I made lightly or quickly. My prayers are with the families who have a historic connection to St. Mary Parish, including the dedicated individuals who have supported St. Mary up to this very day. I know the members of St. Therese Church are ready to welcome them with their many gifts warmly.”