Two Mt. Airy Catholic churches could close by July

A recent letter sent from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to parishes across the Northwest section of the city, places St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Madeline Sophie on the potential chopping block. Final decisions are scheduled to be made by March with the final restructuring plan in place by July 1, according to the letter. The recommendations are part of the Archdiocese’s Parish Pastoral Planning Initiative, a restructuring plan that looks to offset, among other things, financial woes, demographic shifts and a dip in weekly Mass attendance. Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman with the Archdiocese, characterized the letter as “more of an opening of dialogue than anything else.” He stressed that no decisions have been made regarding the Mt. Airy parishes or any other parishes in the city, all of which will be evaluated in the next two to four years. The Archdiocese does hope to stick to the letter’s timeline, said Gavin, though there is some flexibility if more discussion is needed. He said parishes, such as St. Therese and St. Madeline, in Parish Planning Area 540 were put under the microscope first because the Archdiocese identified them as a “top priority.” “There’s been a big demographic shift in the neighborhood,” said Gavin. The restructuring initiative lays out two possible outcomes for each parish: merger or no merger with a plan for “future sustainability.” Both St. Madeline and St. Therese could merge with Holy Cross Parish in Mt. Airy, according the letter. St. Theresa may also merge with Saint Raymond of Penafort in Cedarbrook.

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