By luke eggleston / sun staff writer
Last week, the Syracuse Diocese announced the reconfiguration changes affecting those parishes located in the Eastern and Western Regions. The announcements were made during press conferences at Holy Cross Parish in DeWitt and St. Peter’s in Rome. Syracuse Diocese Bishop James Moynihan made personal appearances in both regions to offer explanations to the priests and the media.
“Our goal in sharing these decisions now is to offer the people of the diocese a blueprint of how the local church will be structured in the years to come,” the bishop said. “Much like the decisions announced yesterday in Onondaga and Cortland Counties, the majority of these decisions are dependent on the timing of personnel changes.”
The announcements for the Western Region of the diocese are as follows:
The parishes and missions of Cortland County together with St. Patrick’s in Whitney Point will have a diocesan facilitated conversation about their future with the ministry of three priests. The Cortland County parishes and missions include Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Cincinnatus; St. Anthony of Padua, Cortland; St. Lawrence Mission, DeRuyter; St. Margaret, Homer; St. Mary, Cortland; St. Patrick, Truxton; and St. Stephen, Marathon.
Upon a change in pastors at either St. Mary in Skaneateles or St. Patrick in Jordon, the parish in Jordon will become a mission of St. Mary.
Our Lady of Good Counsel in Warners will close once its current priest in residence retires and its parish will merge with that of St. Joseph in Camillus.
When the current pastor of St. Brigid-St. Joseph Parish in Syracuse retires, the parish will merge with St. Patrick, Syracuse.
Upon a pastor change at either St. Cecilia in Solvay or Our Lady of Peace in Lakeland, these two parishes will be linked with one pastor.
When the pastor of either Immaculate Heart of Mary or St. Joseph the Worker, Liverpool retires, a new pastor will be appointed to the open pastorate. Upon the retirement of the remaining pastor, these parishes will be linked.
The parishes of St. Stephen, Phoenix, and St. John and Christ the King in Liverpool will enter a facilitated conversation to study the changing demographics of their area and recommend pastoral strategies for the future.
Upon a change in either pastor, St. Mary and St. Augustine in Baldwinsville will be linked.
Upon a change in either pastor/administrator, the parishes of St. Vincent de Paul and Transfiguration in Syracuse will merge.
The parishes of St. James, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Anthony of Padua in Syracuse will continue their dialogue by making recommendations to the bishop on how to implement their plan to serve the area with one pastor at one site.
Parishes presently unchanged which may be involved in future collaborations are: Holy Family in Fairmont, St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse, Assumption in Syracuse, Most Holy Rosary in Syracuse, Blessed Sacrament in Syracuse, St. Matthews in East Syracuse, St. Daniel in Lyncourt, St. Mary in Minoa, St. Francis in Bridgeport, St. Ann in Manlius, St. James in Cazenovia, Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville, St. Francis Xavier in Marcellus and St. Patrick in Chittenango and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Baldwinsville.
Father Wilbur Votraw is the administrator at St. Vincent de Paul on the near northeast side of Syracuse. He noted that while his parish has been linked with nearby Transfiguration Church for some time, the announcement that they would merge was new. Father Votraw believes that St. Vincent de Paul should be able to handle the merger process with relative ease and acceptance. Both parishes have engaged in numerous activities together and the people are on familiar terms.
“I think they’ll get used to things,” Father Votraw said. “They’re open, generous and very socially conscious.”
Father Greg Le Strange recently arrived at St. Joseph’s in Camillus and he has found the parishioners to be “welcoming, faith-filled and eager to move into the future.” St. Joseph’s will soon open its doors to the parishioners of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Father Le Strange expects the same warmth that was extended to him to also be shared with the new influx of people.
“Now that the decision has been made that we’ll be working more closely we’ll strengthen that sense of welcoming community,” Father Le Strange said.
The announcements for the Eastern Region of the diocese are as follows:
Upon the retirement of the pastor of St. John’s in North Bay, St. John’s will be closed. The parish will continue at St. Mary of the Lake Mission, Verona Beach. St. Mary of the Lake Mission will be entrusted to the care of St. Agatha in Canastota.
Upon a change in pastor, St. John the Baptist and Transfiguration in Rome will merge.
The parishes of St. Paul in Rome, St. Joseph in Lee Center, St. Patrick in Taberg and St. John in Camden will have a facilitated conversation about their future.
At the conclusion of the terms of their pastors in 2008, St. Patrick and St. Joseph in Oneida will be linked.
Upon the retirement of the administrator of St. Francis in Durhamville and St. Theresa in Munnsville these parishes will be closed. The care of the people and the territory will be entrusted to the pastor serving the Oneida Catholic Community.
Upon the retirement of the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Verona, the parish will be closed. The care of its people and territory will be entrusted to the pastor of Holy Family in Vernon. Holy Family in Vernon will also be linked to St. Helena in Sherill once the term of its current pastor ends.
Upon the retirement of the pastor of St. Joseph in Oriskany Falls, the parish will be linked with St. Bernard’s in Waterville.
St. Peter and St. Mark parishes in North Utica will enter a facilitated conversation to develop collaborative ministries in their area.
Holy Trinity, Historic St. John and St. Joseph-St. Patrick in Utica will enter a facilitated dialogue to explore and create collaborative urban ministries in the areas served by their parishes.
Once its pastor retires, St. Stanislaus in Utica will close. The care of its people and ministries will be entrusted to the pastor of Holy Trinity in Utica.
Upon a change in the pastorate of St. Stephen in Oriskany, the parish will close. The care of its people and ministries will be entrusted to the pastor of St. Paul in Whitesboro.
Upon the retirement of the pastor of St. Anthony in Chadwicks, St. Anthony and St. Patrick in Clayville will merge.
Upon a change in pastors at Annunciation in Clark Mills or St. Thomas in New Hartford, these parishes will be linked.
St. John in New Hartford, Mount Carmel-Blessed Sacrament in Utica, and St. Mary Clinton, along with its entrusted campus ministry at Hamilton College, are as yet unaffected
Father Joe Salerno is the pastor at the populous Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica and also the vicar of the Eastern Region. He said that overall, the reactions to the mergers and linkages are likely mixed but in his experience most people were positive.
“I think most people have been accepting,” he said.
Father John Hogan is the pastor at St. John the Baptist in Rome, which will soon merge with Transfiguration. He said that up to this point, there had been little planning because neither church knew what to expect. Nevertheless, he has tried to prepare the parishioners in case of a change.
“I’ve been keeping them aware that it could happen that we would need to welcome another community,” Father Hogan said.
Betty Pettinelli is the vice chair of the joint parish council at St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s in Rome, which have been linked for four years and are currently merging. She said that the most important thing for people to do when faced with a merger or linkage is to get acquainted with one another and to pray. Pettinelli, who was baptized and confirmed at St. Peter’s, said it’s important to maintain perspective.
“We need to think of ourselves as people, not as a building,” she said.