14 Parishes in Diocese of Greensburg to Close in Restructuring

By Paul Peirce

October 6, 2008

Fourteen Catholic parishes will close and two will merge under a sweeping restructing of the Diocese of Greensburg announced this morning by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt.

Brandt said a decline in both the number of parishioners and priests necessitated the changes.

The 12 churches that will close are All Saints, Arnold; St. Boniface, Penn; St. Mary, Our Lady of Snows, Parker; St. Bede, Bovard; St. Mary, Forbes Road; Holy Spirit, Fayette City; St. Timothy, Smithton; St. Charles Borromeo, Sutersville; Forty Martyrs, Trauger; St. Stanislaus, Calumet; Holy Trinity, Connellsville; St. Vincent de Paul, Leisenring; St. James, Maxwell, and St. Albert in Palmer.

St. Frances in Coral and St. Louis, Lucernemines, will merge to become Our Lady of Assumption Parish, according to Brandt.

Parishioners of the 14 churches were told the news at Masses Saturday and Sunday.

The moves affect all four counties in the diocese, which is comprised of Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland counties. The changes are effective Oct. 30.

"I know that people are mentally and emotionally attached to their parishes and their churches in a way they identify with no other building or entity. They are baptized, married and buried there, and they have life-changing experiences there that mark them for life," Brandt said.

"It is understandable that they feel part of themselves has been lost forever," the bishop said.

Brandt said decades-old populations shifts and the number of aging priests and parishioners in the diocese necessitated the moves, which have been in the planning process for three years.

The bishop pointed out that the number of parishioners in the closings represents approximately 2.5 percent of the Catholic population in the diocese, "yet they are being served by nearly 20 percent of our clergy in parish ministry."

"I cannot in good conscience continue to justify this disproportionate use of our resources," he said.

In addition, Brandt said 26 parishes will enter into new or modified partner parish configurations. In partner parishes, one priest provides pastoral care and administration for two or more parishes.

The following parishes will be partnered: St. Joseph and St. Mary of Czestochowa, both in New Kensington; St. James, Apollo, and Our Lady, Queen of Peace, East Vandergrift; Ascension and Sacred Heart, both in Jeannette; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Kittanning and St. Mary, Yatesboro; St. Lawrence, Cadogan, and Christ, Prince of Peace, Ford City; St. Ambrose, Avonmore, St. Matthew, Saltsburg and St. Sylvester, Slickville; St. Benedict, Marguerite, and St. Bruno, South Greensburg; St. John the Baptist, Perryopolis, and St. Hedwig, Smock; St. John, St. Rita and Immaculate Conception, all in Connellsville; St. Raymond, Donegal, and St. Boniface, Chestnut Ridge; St. Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Leckrone, and All Saints, Masontown; St. Peter, Brownsville, and St. Cecelia, Grindstone.

Paul Peirce can be reached at or 724-850-2860.


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