CHRISTOPHER D. RINGWALDThe merged parish of Holy Trinity in Johnstown will find its home at the former St. Patrick's after its other two worship sites close, most likely by the end of the year, according to diocesan officials.
St. Anthony of Padua and Immaculate Conception churches will both close and be sold. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard announced the decision in a letter read at Masses the weekend of Sept. 12-13.
In the letter, the Bishop said he was acting on the recommendations of the Butler Rowland Mays architectural firm, which evaluated the three sites to determine the best to use.
The three churches are within walking distance of each other in Johnstown. Since 2003, they have operated as one parish with Masses at all three locations. The parish has about 800 households.
The announcement was expected, at least in general terms, ever since the "Called to be Church" pastoral planning process for the Albany Diocese yielded a plan to consolidate the parish at one site to conserve resources and adjust to life with one priest and shifting demographics.
"They knew it was coming," said Kenneth Goldfarb, a spokesman for the Diocese.
Those factors influenced most of the mergers and closings in the diocesan pastoral plan, which was announced in January after a two-and-a-half-year process of consultations, meetings and study. In all, 33 churches or worship sites will have closed by the end of 2011 under the plan.
One parishioner said that knowing the final decision was a relief even as members suffered heartache. The decision was first scheduled to be made by July 1, but was postponed.
Rev. Kenneth Swain, pastor, discussed the issue at Masses; he was traveling and unavailable for further comment afterward.
As with other parish buildings that have been sold in the Diocese, proceeds go first to pay any outstanding debts, with the remainder staying with the merged or successor parish. And as in other cases, a closing liturgy will most likely be offered at the two churches.