Citing a drop in both membership and priests, the Catholic Community of North Attleborough has formed a plan to bring three churches together.
At this time, there are no plans to close any of the member churches—St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mark’s Church, and Sacred Heart Church. The intent is to utilize strategic planning to allow for parishioners and clergy to work together to identify current and future challenges, as well as develop goals for growth and revitalization.
Christopher Servant—a Saint Mark’s parishioner and member of the Unification Assembly—said that a study of Catholic churches in the United States has shown that 3,363 parishes are without a resident priest. Baptisms are down 44 percent and mass attendance is down 37 percent.
“If we don’t do something, the Catholic faith may soon be a thing of the past,” he said at a meeting held on Sunday, Nov. 24, at Bishop Feehan High School.
Servant added that Mass has been reduced in number to cope with staffing shortages, and a financial report shows that all three churches are living well beyond their means. Unification Assembly member Miles Miller of Saint Mary’s said that the planned name for the unified churches is the Transfiguration of the Lord Parish, though each of the churches would keep their original names. He said the unification would look at building assessments, unused and used properties, and seek to form a group for youth ministry and community service.
“We need parish involvement,” said Miller. “We encourage parishioners to get involved and make their individual voices heard.”
At this time there are no plans to change Mass schedules. Building funds will be frozen until an assessment of the three churches can be completed. Money from the weekly collections will go into a central budget and used to cover expenses at all three church. The Catholic school will remain as it is. A final approval from the Diocese is required for the plan to move forward in January.