Bishop Salvatore R. Matano has called for the clustered parishes of St. Francis Solanus, Interlaken; Holy Cross, Ovid; and St. James the Apostle, Trumansburg, to merge into a single parish by June 2016.
Bishop Matano made the announcement in an Oct. 1, 2015, letter to Father Bernard Maloney, OFM Cap, pastor of the three churches. The letter was read at weekend Masses Oct. 10-11 and also mailed to parishioners.
A story in the October Catholic Courier noted that St. Francis, Holy Cross and St. James recently had begun a clustering process, with each church maintaining separate identities while sharing programs and ministries. However, by becoming a single parish as stipulated in Bishop Matano’s letter, all finances, staff, councils and other aspects of parish operation will be consolidated.
A major facet of this development will be the discontinuation of weekend and weekday Masses at one of the three churches, although that church — which has not yet been determined — would remain open for weddings and funerals. Bishop Matano also called for the churches to develop a single parish pastoral council and single finance council, as well as a unified staff operating out of one office.
According to the bishop’s letter, a merger of the parishes is necessary due to decreasing numbers at weekend Masses with a nearly 40 percent drop in the three churches over the past 15 years; fewer families with children taking part in religious education and sacramental preparation; and decreases in Sunday offerings and parish savings.
"It becomes apparent that the truly positive and productive way the Catholic Church can remain alive and thrive within this area is through union into one faith community," the bishop wrote.