Diocese announces reorganization of Camden parishes

Diocese announces reorganization of Camden parishes

CAMDEN — The Diocese of Camden announced June 23 that Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan has reviewed the recommendations of the Camden Planning Committee, made up of pastors and lay representatives of the six parishes of the City of Camden, to merge the following parishes:

— Saint Joseph Parish will merge into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish. Father John Fisher, OSFS, will continue as rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish

— Saint Anthony of Padua Parish will merge into Saint Joseph Pro-Cathedral Parish. Father Jaime Hostios will continue as pastor of Saint Joseph Pro-Cathedral Parish.

— Saint Josephine Bakhita Parish will merge into Sacred Heart Parish. Monsignor Michael Doyle will continue to serve as the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, while Father Gerard Marable will serve as pastor in solidum and moderator. As the pastors of the former separate parishes, they will administer the new parish together.

New Apostolates created

In 2010, Saint Josephine Bakhita Parish was established as the personal parish for the African American Catholic Community in the County of Camden. By this merger, in its place Bishop Sullivan has decreed that an apostolate be created for African American Catholics, coordinated from Sacred Heart Parish, as the successor of the ministry done at Saint Josephine Bakhita Parish and before that Saint Bartholomew Parish.

Likewise, for many years Saint Joseph Parish was established as the personal parish for the Polish Catholic Community in the City of Camden. By this merger, in its place Bishop Sullivan has decreed that an apostolate for the Polish Catholic Community, coordinated from the Parish of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, as the successor of the ministry done at Saint Joseph Parish.

Background related to the decision

Each of the individual parishes is unique and has adapted, insofar as possible, to conditions which challenge the work of the Church in the City of Camden such as: 1) significant demographic and population shifts, 2) a reduction in the number of resident and practicing Catholics within Camden, 3) a corresponding decrease in revenue to support the work of the parishes in Camden, 4) a reduction in the availability of clergy, and 5) other conditions and trends which are either applicable to all of Camden; or to the particular circumstances of the individual parishes within Camden.

With this is mind, beginning in September 2015 the Diocese of Camden requested of the six parishes of Camden to begin planning for the future of the Church in the city.

On Nov. 17, 2015, 18 representatives of the parishes of Camden began monthly meetings to determine what could be done to ensure that the Church could continue to minister effectively to the people of the city.

As a venture of this nature is not entered into lightly, and only with prayer before the eyes of God, sincere study, consideration, and consultation was undertaken by the group.

For the next 18 months, the parish representatives were asked to consider how the future Church in Camden could

1) provide more effectively for the pastoral needs of the people;

2) assure the vitality of parish life in this area;

3) provide for a better stewardship of resources; and,

4) provide for the optimum use of clergy and lay personnel.

In time, the parish representatives looked at all the data and concerns of the parishes and ultimately determined that the most effective option was to reduce the number of parishes through mergers, which would save on personnel, housing and other assorted management costs, while maintaining a strong ability to conduct the various ministries to the people who live and worship at these churches.

Many options were considered and on April 5, 2017, recommendations were presented to Bishop Sullivan. On June 23, 2017, after having consulted and heard the unanimous supporting opinion of the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Camden, Bishop Sullivan signed three decrees established for the newly merged parishes in the City of Camden.

All parish property, assets and debts of the former parishes will be assumed by the newly formed parish, which will also be responsible for the care of all sacramental records.

The operations of the Catholic schools in Camden are unaffected by the reorganization of these parishes.

While the decrees are effective July 31, 2017, the actual transition of the parishes will unfold over time at a speed in the best interests of the parishioners and parish. During this time, all affected churches will remain open for normal worship, unless and until determined otherwise by the parishes themselves.

With these mergers, there are now 62 parishes in the Diocese of Camden, which comprises the six southernmost counties of New Jersey ministering to 450,000 Catholics in the region.

 

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