As parishes continue to make progress in their preparations for merger, Bishop Joseph Galante has appointed Larry Farmer as merger coordinator to assist with the implementation of the parish reconfiguration announced last year.
Farmer will oversee and provide assistance to Priest Conveners and Core Teams as they work to complete the preparations for merger. He also will work with the Diocesan Merger Review Committee as it conducts onsite visits of parishes that have completed their preparations for merger to assure that full preparations have been made before parishes are formally established by decree.
“Larry will bring great insight, experience and leadership to the planning initiative underway in the diocese. He will be a great help to our Priest Conveners and Core Teams as they continue to make great progress tending to the range of canonical, civil, temporal and pastoral preparations that must occur for parishes to merge,” said Bishop Joseph Galante.
Following a successful four-decade career as a business leader, Farmer assumed the responsibilities of pastoral assistant at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Sicklerville in 2006. He also served as facilitator for the Diocesan Planning Commission as it reviewed preliminary planning recommendations in summer, 2007. He also served as facilitator for deanery five as that deanery developed its parish planning recommendations. A parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul in Turnersville, he is in formation for the permanent diaconate for the diocese.
“I am thankful for this opportunity to serve the diocese at an important time as our parishes prepare to merge. I look forward to working closely with our priests and parishioners who are doing such wonderful work coming together in a common mission to strengthen parishes and to revitalize parish life throughout the diocese,” said Farmer.
Bishop Galante announced his intentions for parish reconfiguration in April 2008 in response to pressing challenges facing parishes and the need to bring new fervor to parish life, including advancing pastoral priorities like youth ministry and lifelong formation that were identified by parishioners at Speak Up sessions.
With a third of parishes struggling financially, a sharp decline in the number of diocesan priests available for parish ministry, shifts and changes in population and a decline in religious practice, Bishop Galante said he hoped to reverse downward trends, promote future growth and improve pastoral care to the people of South Jersey.
At the time of the announcement last April, Bishop Galante indicated that it would take 12 to 24 months before he would promulgate decrees in order to give parishes ample time to transition and complete necessary preparations. In recent weeks the Diocesan Merger Review Committee has reviewed four intended mergers, and the first decrees are expected this summer.