Change is again on the horizon for Catholic churches in central Steuben County, as five faith communities prepare to form two parishes within the next few years.
A reconfiguration plan was finalized on Feb. 7 when the Central Steuben Catholic Parishes (CSCP) planning group met with area parish councils. Details of the proposal were subsequently distributed to parishioners of all five churches.
According to the plan — which now awaits approval by Bishop Matthew H. Clark — in July 2010 St. Catherine of Siena in Addison, St. Stanislaus in Bradford and St. Joseph in Campbell canonically become a new parish operating three worship sites. These parishes have shared a priest pastor for many years, with Father Patrick Connor currently serving in that position. Combining into a single parish would involve a blending of the three churches’ finances, staffing, programming and parish councils.
Also as a part of the CSCP plan, St. Mary in Bath and St. Gabriel in Hammondsport would cluster in 2010. The two churches have shared a sacramental minister since 1994, and each are currently led by their own pastoral administrator — Maureen O’Neill at St. Gabriel and Deacon Raymond Defendorf (who is retiring this June) at St. Mary. Beginning next year, the CSCP plan calls for either a single priest or pastoral administrator to oversee both churches.
From there, St. Gabriel/St. Mary would form a single parish by 2012. At that point, every worship site in Steuben County would be part of a larger parish. The current such parishes, and their member worship sites, are:
* Holy Family (St. Joseph, Wayland; Sacred Heart, Perkinsville; St. Pius V, Cohocton; and St. Mary, Dansville, Livingston County), formed in 2004.
* Our Lady of the Valley (St. Ann, Hornell; St. Mary, Rexville), formed in 2004.
* All Saints (St. Mary, Corning; St. Vincent de Paul, Corning; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Painted Post), formed in 2001.
Steuben County parishes have historically been pioneers in pastoral-planning developments. In 1990 four Corning-area churches formed a cluster, becoming one of the first examples in diocesan history of multiple parishes sharing one pastor. And in 1994, Sister Anne Michelle McGill, SSJ, became the diocese’s first-ever pastoral administrator when she began a 12-year tenure at St. Gabriel. Clusters, single parishes with multiple worship sites and pastoral administrators, are now common throughout the diocese.