By ROBIN CAUDELL
---- — MALONE — Malone Catholic Parishes — St. Joseph’s Church, Notre Dame Church, St. John Bosco Church and St. Helen’s Church — plan to consolidate under the name of St. Andre Bessette Parish.
“For years and years, they were first ones that shared a pastor and linked together,” said Sister Jennifer Votraw, chancellor and director of communications for the Diocese of Ogdensburg.
“They’ve been linked for a long time. The longer they link, it’s like a long engagement.”
‘FROM LINKED TO CONSOLIDATED’
The churches are moving from an engagement to a marriage under the direction of the Rev. Joseph W. Giroux.
“They’ve agreed and met and discussed it,” Votraw said. “They are going from linked to consolidated. They spent a lot of time informing their parishioners and going back and forth with their parishioners. The pastor has to be sure that the parish council and finance people give out financial information to all the parishes.”
Financial information is shared in a common letter or insert.
“So everybody reads the same thing about everything and anything that goes on about the consolidation or merger,” Votraw said. “You don’t want them to feel they are left out.”
Within the diocese, there have been 14 mergers impacting 28 parishes. Examples include St. John the Baptist and Immaculate Conception, which comprise the Roman Catholic Community of Keeseville.
Church of the Holy Name in AuSable Forks and St. Matthew’s Church in Black Brook comprise the Catholic Community of Holy Name and St. Matthew.
In Plattsburgh, St. John the Baptist Church, St. Mary’s of the Lake and the Blessed John XXIII Newman Center are linked.
‘STREAMLINES A LOT’
“The difference in Malone is there are more of them,” Votraw said. “Instead of two parishes doing this, there are four of them. The benefits don’t change a lot in parishioners’ lives. It streamlines a lot of administrative work: one financial report, one pastoral council and finance council.”
Instead of Giroux attending four financial meetings, he can attend one.
“The churches elect people to be on the council,” Votraw said. “It’s just like a marriage. They have to own their part. They have chosen to go with this new entity. They chose that name for the whole entity. So now, even though the four parishes by law become one and become the parish of St. Andre Bessette, church law requires that each church must keep the same name that they’ve had. We call them worship sites with the names they have kept all along so they don’t lose that sense of who they are.”
Each merger was requested by the churches involved.
“It’s exciting,” Votraw said. “It’s very efficient in keeping things streamlined and sharing concerns. You’re all in it together in every sense of the word. All the parishes that have merged previously to this one, they have all made the request themselves. It was not imposed by the diocese. This is what they wanted to do.”
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