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September 6, 2013

Malone-area churches aligned behind Brother Andre

MALONE — Catholics from four congregations will be united under a single parish name to forge a shared vision, strengthen their bonds and invigorate their faith.

Malone Catholic Parishes will combine St. John Bosco (est. 1935), Notre Dame (est. 1869) and St. Joseph’s (est. 1867) in Malone as well as St. Helen’s (est. 1877) in Chasm Falls into St. Andre Bessette Roman Catholic Parish.

But each church and congregation will retain its own buildings and identities, said the Rev. Joseph Giroux, who will host a listening session for parishioners at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, at the St. John Bosco Parish Hall.

He said mostly behind-the-scenes changes, such as being able to pay expenses as a single bill instead of issuing four separate checks for services or maintaining four separate bank accounts, will be made for now.

“We’re working as four instead of one, and it can get to be clumsy,” he said. “We will all be a community versus fragmented. We’re transitioning from four into one cohesive unit.”

Malone Catholic Parishes formed in 2003 to streamline operations at the churches, which were served by a pastor and two parochial vicars until 2007 when one vicar position was cut by the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

“The number of pastors won’t change now, but the number of clergy is not decided locally,” he said. “It’s decided by the diocese, and we can’t predict what will happen.”

“Ten years ago, all the staffs were reduced to one, so there is no paring left to do,” he said.

During the 2003 transition, the Sunday Mass schedule went from 12 services to nine, and that was further reduced to six in 2007. Services at mission churches in Owls Head and Lake Titus were eliminated six years ago.

Some reduction can be attributed to fewer priests and fewer active Catholics, Giroux said.

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