Chemung, Yates and Tioga churches schedule closing Masses - Catholic Courier

Chemung, Yates and Tioga churches schedule closing Masses

Churches in Chemung, Yates and Tioga counties have scheduled Masses in the upcoming weeks to commemorate their closings.

A liturgy celebrating the 55-year history of St. Pius X Church in Van Etten is scheduled for Sunday, June 28, at 3 p.m. Regular Sunday Masses were discontinued at the church back in January, and it since has been used sparingly for special Masses and prayer services.

Father William Moorby, pastor of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes, noted that a non-Catholic faith community has begun renting the Chemung County facility, with the intention of buying it after a year’s time. Although the details have not been finalized, "We realize that it is difficult (for us) to continue using the facility for occasional Masses if we are renting (out) the building. A group renting the St. Pius X Church building should be able to use the space to meet their needs," Father Moorby explained in a parish bulletin article dated May 17.

Another of the six Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick churches, St. Francis of Assisi in Catatonk, Tioga County, will celebrate its last regular Sunday Mass on July 19 at 9:30 a.m. Father Moorby told the Catholic Courier that "we will be looking to sell St. Francis, and we will continue to use it for weddings and funerals." No closing liturgy similar to the one at St. Pius X has yet been scheduled at St. Francis, which was founded in 1931.

Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick officials had announced in 2008 that St. Francis and St. Pius X would eventually close due to the declining number of available priests. On July 1, Father John DeSocio — currently the parochial vicar at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick — will move to the pastorate of St. Mary Parish in Elmira and will not be replaced, reducing the number of full-time priests for Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick from three to two. As a result, the parishes will reduce the number of Sunday Masses offered from nine to seven, with liturgies taking place at four Tioga County churches: St. Patrick, Owego; St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin; St. James, Waverly; and St. John the Evangelist, Newark Valley.

Meanwhile, St. Andrew Church in Dundee, Yates County, will celebrate its closing Mass on June 28 at 3 p.m. According to Karen Rinefierd, diocesan pastoral-planning liaison, this move also is being fueled by the declining availability of priests to serve in the six-church Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community.

According to the parish’s 2006 pastoral plan, Our Lady of the Lakes’ goal was to "develop a plan that accommodates the assignment of two full-time priests no later than June 2009." The plan further noted that its geographic area presents an unusually large coverage area of approximately 600 square miles.

St. Andrew was founded in 1877 and is part of the Our Lady of the Lakes configuration that also includes St. Michael, Penn Yan; St. Theresa, Stanley; St. Mary, Rushville; St. Januarius, Naples; and St. Patrick, Prattsburgh.

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