Due to declining availability of priests for Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes, St. Pius X Church in Van Etten will celebrate its final regular Sunday Mass at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2009.
Father William Moorby, pastor, explained in the Dec. 7 Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick bulletin that weekly worship at St. Pius X is ending at this time for two reasons. First of all, health concerns now prevent Father Thomas Watts, a retired diocesan priest, from regularly celebrating one of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s 10 weekend Masses as he has done in the past. In addition, the town of Van Etten has made an unsolicited offer to purchase the church property.
Until the sale is complete, St. Pius X will remain available for weddings and funerals, as well as occasional weekday evening Masses, prayer services and dinners, Father Moorby said, adding that a final Mass will be scheduled just prior to the property transfer.
St. Pius X, located in northeastern Chemung County, has served area Catholics since 1954. Parish officials had announced this spring that it would be one of two worship sites to close within the six-church Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick configuration. The other church slated for closure is St. Francis of Assisi in Catatonk, where Sunday Masses will continue for as long as three full-time priests are available to the parishes, according to Father Moorby.
Remaining churches in the configuration are St. Patrick, Owego; St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin; St. James, Waverly; and St. John the Evangelist, Newark Valley. St. Pius X is the only Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick church outside Tioga County.
In an effort to ease the transition for parishioners at St. Pius X, Father Moorby wrote that the parish pastoral council and staff members are contacting registered members to see where they’re likely to attend Mass and determine what, if any, their transportation needs may be.
“It is our goal to help them to feel welcome and included into whatever church they decide to attend,” Father Moorby wrote.