MALONE - Within a year, Malone Catholic Parishes will no longer be recognized as four separate parishes, but as one consolidated parish.
Though none of Malones four churches – Notre Dame, St. Josephs, and St. John Bosco along with St. Helens in Chasm Falls – will close at that time, this could be considered in the future due to a declining number of parishioners, Malone Catholic Parishes pastor Fr. Joseph Giroux said Monday.
Were becoming one institution, Fr. Giroux said, adding that a parish refers to the people that worship at a church, not the buildings themselves. The new parish, according to a news release, will be named St. André Bessette. The consolidation will be effective on July 1, 2014.
While the Malone Catholic Parishes often appear to function as one, in reality they remain four distinct institutions, according to the news release.
Consolidating the four parishes under one name will help as far as uniting finances and being recognized as one institution by the state.
Im sure many people will not notice a difference, Fr. Giroux said.
With the parishes consolidated into one, Fr. Giroux said they plan to research the demographics of the churches and how they have changed throughout the years. Fr. Giroux noted that on weekends all four churches serve a combined 1,000 to 1,100 people. This is a decrease, he said, of around 700 people from 10 years go, a 40 percent decline.
The news release notes the parishes were consolidated under one pastor in 2003 and have since then shared pastor and administrative staff.
Fr. Giroux noted that the names and worship services for the four churches will not change at this time. However, he stressed the buildings are not the most important things when it comes to religion.
We can have church without buildings, he said. The buildings are nic,e but they are not essential.
St. André Bessette, whom the new parish will be named for, was from Montreal and was canonized in October 2010, according to the release. It notes that St. Bessette lived from 1845 through 1937 and visited Malone several times.
Malones first Catholic church was built in 1837 and in 1853 Malone had its first resident priest, according to a timeline provided by Malone Catholic Parishes.
In 2003 when Malone Catholic Parishes was established, the mass schedule on Sundays was decreased from 12 services to nine and there was one pastor and two parochial vicars, according to the timeline. Staff was further reduced in 2007 to one pastor and one parochial vicar, according to the timeline, which also notes that masses were reduced from nine to six. It adds that 2007 marked the last masses in Mountain View and Lake Titus.
Fr. Giroux became the pastor for Malone Catholic Parishes in 2010, according to the timeline.