16 Philly-Area Churches Hold Their Final Mass

The mood was bittersweet for parishioners at Notre Dame de Lourdes in Swarthmore on Saturday. It was supposed to be a celebration of the church's 55 year history. More often than not however it seemed like a night of mourning.

"It's not like we're going to mass," said Bob Lynch, one of the parishioners. "It's kind of like we're going to a funeral."

Notre Dame is one of 16 local churches that will hold their final mass on Sunday before closing for good on Monday.

Last year, 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.

A committee -- made up of lay persons, priests and Archdiocesan personnel -- presented Archbishop Charles Chaput with three possible recommendations for each parish: to merge, to complete additional evaluations in the future or maintain their current structure and develop a plan for long-term sustainability.

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese announced the 16 parishes that would close.

"The mergers being announced are due to a number of factors including a shift in Catholic population, a high density of parishes in a small area, as well as declines in Mass attendance, Sacramental activity, the availability of priests to staff parishes, and a review of facilities," said Archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin in a released statement. "In each instance of a merger, parishioners will attend daily and Sunday Mass at the church of the newly formed parish. The church(es) of the former parish(es) will become a worship site(es). Worship sites will be utilized for weddings, funerals and feast days, as well as traditional and ethnic devotions. Sunday Mass may also be celebrated at worship sites at the discretion of the pastor and the newly formed pastoral council and depending upon the availability of clergy."

Notre Dame de Lourdes will merge with Our Lady of Peace in Milmont Park.

"It's sad for every person that I know that's still in my parish who grew up here and who stayed here because of the camaraderie and the family-like atmosphere," said Karen Finelli, while on the verge of tears. "It's very sad."

Five of the parishes set to merge, including Notre Dame de Lourdes, filed appeals against the decision. The other parishes that appealed are Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Ann.

The appeals are with Archbishop Chaput who will likely make a decision next month. Some parishioners have said they plan to take the appeal to the Vatican if its declined by Chaput. Since the parish mergers began in 2010, no appeals have ever been overturned.

Here is the full list of churches and the decisions that were made:

Notre Dame de Lourdes99 Fairview Road, SwarthmoreDelaware CountyClosing; Merging with Our Lady of Peace in Milmont Park
Sacred Heart 316 E. Broadway Ave, Clifton HeightsDelaware CountyStaying Open
St. Eugene200 S. Oak Ave., PrimosDelaware CountyStaying Open
St. Joseph500 Woodlawn Ave, CollingdaleDelaware CountyStaying Open
Holy Spirit Catholic Church1028 School St., Sharon HillDelaware CountyClosing; Merging with St. George
St. George22 E Cooke Ave, GlenoldenDelaware CountyStaying Open
Our Lady of Perpetual Help2130 Franklin Ave, MortonDelaware CountyStaying Open
Our Lady of Fatima1 Fatima Drive, SecaneDelaware CountyStaying Open
St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church 233 Mohawk Ave., NorwoodDelaware CountyStaying Open
Our Lady of Peace501 Belmont Ave., Milmont ParkDelaware CountyStaying Open
St. Rose of Lima1901 Chester Pike, EddystoneDelaware CountyStaying Open
St. Madeline105 Park St, Ridley ParkDelaware CountyStaying Open
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque500 Wanamaker Ave., EssingtonDelaware CountyClosing; Merging with St. Gabriel 
St. Luke the Evangelist2316 Fairhill Ave, GlensideMontgomery CountyStaying Open
Queen of Peace820 North Hills Ave., ArdsleyMontgomery CountyStaying Open
St. John of the Cross2741 Woodland Road, RoslynMontgomery CountyClosing, Merging With Queen of Peace
St. David316 Easton Road, Willow Grove Montgomery CountyStaying Open
Mother of Divine Providence333 Allendale Road, King of Prussia Montgomery CountyStaying Open
Our Lady of Mount Carmel502 Ford St., BridgeportMontgomery CountyClosing, Merging With Sacred Heart
St. Augustine464 Ford St., BridgeportMontgomery CountyClosing, Merging with Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart120 Jefferson St., SwedesburgMontgomery CountyStaying Open 
St. Gertrude209 Merion Ave., West ConshohockenMontgomery CountyClosing; Merging with Saint Matthew
St. Mary140 W. Hector St., ConshohockenMontgomery CountyClosing; Merging with Saint Matthew
St. Matthew219 Fayette St., ConshohockenMontgomery CountyStaying Open
SS. Cosmas and Damian209 W. 5th Ave., ConshohockenMontgomery CountyClosing; Merging with Saint Matthew
St. Charles Borromeo1704 Bristol Pike, BensalemBucks CountyStaying Open

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
1200 Park Ave., BensalemBucks CountyClosing; Merging with St. Thomas Aquinas in Croydon
St. Thomas Aquinas601 Bristol Pike, CroydonBucks CountyStaying Open
Our Lady of Fatima2913 Street Road, BensalemBucks CountyClosing, Merging with St. Charles Borromeo
St. Ann357 Dorrance St., BristolBucks CountyClosing; Merging with St. Mark
St. Mark1025 Radcliffe St., BristolBucks CountyStaying Open
St. Ephrem5400 Hulmeville Road, BensalemBucks CountyStaying Open
Immaculate Conception B.V.M.5201 Emilie Road, LevittownBucks CountyClosing; Merging with Queen of the Universe
St. Michael the Archangel66 Levittown Parkway, LevittownBucks CountyStaying Open

Our Lady of Grace
225 Bellevue Ave., PenndelBucks CountyStaying Open
Queen of the Universe2443 Trenton Road, LevittownBucks CountyStaying Open
St. Frances Cabrini325 S Oxford Valley Road,  Fairless HillsBucks CountyStaying Open
St. Joseph the Worker9172 New Falls Road, LevittownBucks CountyClosing; Merging with St. Frances Cabrini
St Charles Borromeo Parish902 S. 20th St.PhiladelphiaStaying Open
St. Rita of Cascia1166 S. Broad St.PhiladelphiaStaying Open
St. Gabriel2917 Dickinson StPhiladelphiaStaying Open
St. Thomas Aquinas1719 Morris St.PhiladelphiaStaying Open
St Edmond Parish2130 S. 21st St.PhiladelphiaClosing, Merging with St. Monica
St. Monica2422 S 17th StPhiladelphiaStaying Open
St. Richard3010 S. 18th StPhiladelphiaStaying Open
Holy Spirit1845 Hartranft St.PhiladelphiaClosing, Merging With St. Richard

After the mergers become effective, there will be 219 parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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