BY MICHAEL RICONDA
The New York Archdiocese announced their list of planned mergers and closings of Catholic parishes throughout the Hudson Valley, a move which will impact four locations in Rockland County.
The decision is part of the Archdiocese’s broad initiative to cut costs and consolidate church holdings, a plan the Archdiocese dubbed “Making All Things New.” Effective on August 1, 2015, the 10 county region will select 112 parishes to consolidate into 55 parishes overall.
Of those parishes, four in Rockland and Orange will merge into two. In Haverstraw, St. Mary of the Assumption on 46 Conklin Avenue will be closed and incorporated into St. Peter’s Church on 115 Broadway. St. Mary of the Assumption has seen dwindling attendance in recent years while St. Peter’s Church has swelled in attendance due largely to an influx in Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Meanwhile in Ramapo, Saint Joan of Arc in Sloatsburg will be merged into Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tuxedo Park. Other parishes in danger of closing, such as St. John’s in Piermont, were spared and will remain open for the time being. A spirited campaign was led by parishioners to save St. John’s, but the church did not indicate whether this affected their decision.
With the mergers, Rockland will have a grand total of 18 parishes.
Speaking in an interview on Sundy, Cardinal Timothy Dolan acknowledged the sadness and anger of parishioners who lost their favored places of worship, but stated it was a necessary move to strengthen the church as a whole.
“There’s no denying the hurt, there’s no denying the sting, there’s no denying the sorrow today,” Dolan stated.
Dolan also stated that the potential remains for further re-organizations. However, he sought to assure churchgoers that any future mergers would be far more limited in scale than the massive reorganization announced this week. Dolan also oversaw the closing and consolidation of many Catholic schools last year, including St. Peter’s in Haverstraw, one of Rockland County’s oldest schools at the time.