Catholics across the Delaware Valley are finding out this weekend whether the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will close their parish. Bad news is expected for parishioners of nearly 50 local churches.
In September, the Archdiocese informed the public that 46 churches in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery counties would undertake a program of self-study, known as the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative, to determine if any of the parishes should merge together. There are currently 236 churches in the Archdiocese.
Some priests say they've already learned the fate of their church.
A priest at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Delaware County told NBC10 he found out early Friday afternoon that his church will remain open.
Priests in the Archdiocese also tell NBC10 that Notre Dame de Lourdes in Swarthmore, Pa. is expected to merge with Our Lady of Peace in Milmont Park while St. Margaret Mary in Essington is expected to merge with St. Gabriel in Norwood.
The Philadelphia Inquirer also reports that St. Ann Parish in Bristol, Bucks County, will be absorbed by neighboring St. Mark.
The looming announcements are triggering raw emotions in many local Catholics, including Libby Tosti who has attended mass at Saint Ann's in Bristol since she was a baby.
"I was baptized in this church, I made all my sacraments in this church, I was married in this church and I wanted to be buried in this church," said Tosti while choking back tears. "And if they close this church it's not going to happen."
The evaluation, which could affect Our Lady of Fatima in Bensalem, Saint Monica and Saint Thomas Aquinas in Philadelphia, Saint Matthew in Conshohocken, and Saint Eugene in Primos among others, includes a review of each parish's demographics, finances and spiritual activity.
A group of lay persons, priests and Archdiocesan personnel make up a strategic planning committee that is completing the assessments.
The committee presents Archbishop Charles Chaput with three possible recommendations -- to merge, to complete additional evaluations in the future or maintain their current structure and develop a plan for long-term sustainability.
Most pastors in the area have been withholding the news about their parish until they can make an official announcement during mass.
Stay with NBC10.com for more details on this developing story.