Archdiocese of Philadelphia Announcement:
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has approved the recommendations of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee to merge four parishes located in lower Northeast Philadelphia. Saint Adalbert Parish, Saint George Parish, and Mother of Divine Grace Parish will merge with Nativity B.V.M. Parish effective July 1, 2019.
Reverend James P. Olson, currently the pastor of Nativity B.V.M. Parish and parochial administrator of Mother of Divine Grace and Saint George Parishes, will serve as pastor; Reverend James Gorman , currently the parochial vicar with the status of senior priest of Nativity B.V.M. Parish, will serve as parochial vicar with the status of senior priest; and Reverend Jan Palkowsi, currently the pastor of Saint Adalbert Parish, will serve as the parochial vicar with the status of senior priest, of the newly merged parish. Father Palkowsi will also serve as pastor emeritus of Saint Adalbert Parish.
The newly restructured parish will have a Polish Apostolate, which will provide Mass and sacramental care for the Polish speaking people of the area. Saint Adalbert Church will be the worship site of the new Nativity B.V.M. Parish.
Nativity B.V.M. Parish was founded as a territorial parish in 1882. Saint George Parish was founded as a personal parish for Lithuanian speaking people in 1902. Saint Adalbert Parish was founded as a personal parish for Polish speaking people in 1904. Mother of Divine Grace Parish was founded as a personal parish for Italian speaking people in 1926.
The merger is a result of the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative. A committee made up of representatives from each parish studied and discussed the proposal to merge Saint Adalbert Parish, Saint George Parish, and Mother of Divine Grace Parish with Nativity B.V.M. Parish. Several planning options were considered for this area over the last several years. Throughout the process, sufficient information regarding the proposal was gathered, and consultation was conducted with members of Saint Adalbert Parish, Saint George Parish, Mother of Divine Grace Parish, and Nativity B.V.M. Parish.
After reviewing the report prepared by the Area Pastoral Planning Committee, the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee and the Archdiocesan Council of Priests recommended that the parishes be merged. This proposal was thoroughly reviewed by Archbishop Chaput, who gave his approval. The plan will become effective on July 1, 2019.
The merger announced today was based on a combination of factors, including demographic shifts in the Catholic population, high density of parishes in a small area, as well as declines in Mass attendance, Sacramental activity, the availably of priests to staff parishes, and a review of facilities and physical plant for structures at all of the parishes involved.
In each instance, parishioners will attend daily and Sunday Mass at the church of the newly formed parish. All churches of the former parishes will remain open and be maintained as a worship sites. At the discretion of the pastor, the churches will be utilized for weddings, funerals and feast days, as well as traditional and ethnic devotions for the time being. Sunday Mass may also be celebrated at a worship site at the discretion of the pastor and the newly formed pastoral council.
Additionally, all parish property, assets and debts of any former parish will be assumed by the newly formed parish, which will also be responsible for the care of all sacramental records. The pastor of the newly merged parish will form a transitional team made up of lay leaders from each of the merging parishes to assist in moving forward with forming the new parish community. The Archdiocese will provide ongoing guidance and support during the transition process.
When this merger becomes effective there will be 214 parishes in the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
*It is important to note that the effective date listed for these mergers is set for Canonical (Church law) purposes. The actual work of the transition to a new parish community is an ongoing one that will take varying lengths of time dependent upon the unique circumstances of each merger and the needs of each parish. *
Parish Pastoral Data Reviewed in the Planning Process
The statistics presented below do not represent the whole of parish life. They were only one part of the larger picture when developing recommendations for parish mergers. They do, however, provide a snapshot of a parish’s sacramental activity and a gauge to project stability, growth or decline.*
Saint Adalbert Parish: 2013 2017
Baptism 26 11
Marriage 4 2
Weekend Mass Attendance 750 607
Registered Population 2,891 2,356
Registered Households 1,337 1,086
Saint George Parish: 2013 2017
Baptism 26 21
Marriage 2 2
Weekend Mass Attendance 302 194
Registered Population 1,230 1,223
Registered Households 525 415
Mother of Divine Grace Parish: 2013 2017
Baptism 27 6
Marriage 4 3
Weekend Mass Attendance 301 192
Registered Population 1,639 1,758
Registered Households 567 595
Nativity B.V.M. Parish: 2013 2017
Baptism 36 32
Marriage 13 6
Weekend Mass Attendance 430 501
Registered Population 3,003 2,936
Registered Households 1,197 1,161