Bishop Joseph Galante formally announced today the establishment of St. Joachim Parish, formed through the consolidation of Annunciation, Bellmawr; St. Ann, Westville; and St. Maurice, Brooklawn effective on April 6, 2011.
The announcement establishing the new parish was made in a formal decree, which is published in this edition of the Catholic Star Herald (pp. 14-15).
Father Piotr Szamocki has been named pastor of the new parish, for a six-year term.
The present Annunciation Church will be the worship site and seat of the new parish, serving the pastoral needs of the 1,685 families from Bellmawr, Westville, and Brooklawn. The parish boundaries will be those of the three merging church communities.
It is the 32nd decree issued by Bishop Joseph 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. 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.
Core team members from the three churches expressed optimism in the new parish.
“Jesus asked His disciples to leave their homes, their family, and their wealth, and to follow Him in faith. He promised to guide them,” said Nina Curcio, a core team member from Annunciation.
“If we follow Jesus in faith as we build our new parish, He will guide our steps and bless our journey.”
Alicia Melson, a member of the core team from St. Anne, appreciates the bond formed among the three communities the past two years, which have been filled with “anticipation, sadness, hope, and anticipation again.
“The merger process has been long, but (the three churches) have also found friendship, kindness, and understanding of others.”
Edward Sedlack, from St. Maurice, says the communities have found a “new life, new parish, (and) new opportunities to express God’s love to all people. Just like life, it will have its difficulties. Yet with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it can be accomplished.”
Father Szamocki, the new pastor of St. Joachim, recognized the “emotional and challenging time for everyone,” but added that “we are called to have faith that Jesus is guiding us as we build his Kingdom on earth.”
“We have trust in Christ that he will accompany us as we journey toward the goal that he alone knows. I pray and hope that our parishioners will be able to…bring new interest and enthusiasm into” St. Joachim.