Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish established

Bishop Joseph Galante formally announced today the establishment of Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish, formed through the consolidation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Glassboro; and Our Lady Queen of Peace, Pitman, effective on June 22.

The announcement establishing the new parish was made in a formal decree, which is published in this edition of the Catholic Star Herald (pages 16-17).

Father James A. Casadia has been named pastor of the new parish for a six-year term.

The current Our Lady of Lourdes Church will be the seat of the new parish, serving the pastoral needs of the 2,240 families from Glassboro and Pitman, and Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady Queen of Peace Church will both be worship sites. The parish boundaries will be those of the two merging church communities.

It is the 33rd decree issued by Bishop Galante in a diocesan-wide reconfiguration of parishes announced two years ago to strengthen parishes and improve pastoral care to the people of the Diocese of Camden. The reconfigurations are a result of more than a year of study by parish and deanery planners, who considered population and demographic trends, the number of diocesan priests available for ministry, Mass attendance and trends in religious practice.

Members of the Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish Core team, who led the merger process, expressed optimism, amidst the uncertainty brought by needed change.

Lou Granato, a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace for 51 years, said he was initially concerned about the merger and its impact “on our small parish.” Those fears were quickly dispelled, he said, after a few meetings with other team members, and he described the experience as “uplifting.”

“I was able to experience not only the merger of two great parishes, but the combination of spirits, hard work and dedication of the members of the team,” said team member Carol Kelly, who is confident the new parish will “reach out to old friends and new and…become the vibrant parish for which we have all prayed and worked.”

Team member Margie Harkins, meanwhile, acknowledged the “committed efforts of the members of both churches” in “maintaining the dignity and history of the past” but also in creating “a strong foundation for the future.”

Another team member, Kathy Schultes, said, “The process has given us the opportunity to understand first hand the fears and misconceptions faced by parishioners from both parishes, the need to be open and honest in our communications and the eventual acceptance and anticipation of a new more vibrant parish.”

Father Casadia said that during the process, there have been “joys and sorrows,” but these two feelings have “brought us together and are forming us into a new communion of love. As we celebrate each gift and overcome each obstacle we are incorporated into and become one body in the Lord.”

“I am confident that together we will be able to accomplish far more than we ever could have separately. Already we have begun to experience the new vitality that has come from working together toward a common goal.” 

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