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Monroeville and Pitcairn parishes consider merging operations

| Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two eastern suburban Catholic parishes are looking at combining some of their community programs, administrative functions and services.

"It's still very early," said the Rev. Tom Lewandowski, pastor of North American Martyrs in Monroeville, which has about 3,000 parishioners.

The Rev. David Poecking, pastor of St. Michael in Pitcairn, which has about 750 parishioners, said the two parishes could combine financial operations, maintenance and some of their outreach programs.

They might also combine services, with the Monroeville church hosting Saturday evening Mass and the Pitcairn church hosting one Sunday Mass.

"We don't have fixed expectations at this point," Poecking said.

The parishes are looking at ways to combine operations while maintaining two churches. Poecking said declines in church attendance and in the number of priests are driving the discussions.

More priests are retiring than being ordained each year, creating a net loss.

Poecking said former Bishop Donald Wuerl several years ago requested that parishes begin looking at ways to deal with the declining number of priests, a request he renewed in 2006.

St. Michael Parish was established in 1895 and North American Martyrs Church was established in 1960.

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