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Uniontown's St. Anthony Friary to close

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An era will end in Fayette County this spring, as Uniontown's nearly 60-year-old St. Anthony Friary will close on June 13.

The announcement during Sunday and Monday morning Masses at the 115 Oakland Ave. site was met with some disappointment, said the Rev. John Joseph Gonchar.

“It's hard for some to believe and accept. It's a toughie, as with anything else,” Gonchar said.

He attributed the closing to a shrinking number of friars.

“And the age factor. We are not getting any younger. I would say the major reason is a lack of personnel,” Gonchar said.

Gonchar said he and Brother Bill Spond have been assigned to the friary for about four years.

Brother Damien Murkley died in December and was not replaced.

“He worked in helping with the poor in his own way, providing clothes and food,” Gonchar said.

A release from the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati was issued by the Rev. Jeffrey Scheeler, provincial minister.

“Since 1956, it has been our privilege to serve the people of Uniontown and the Diocese of Greensburg. But aging and fewer numbers have led us to make the difficult decision to close St. Anthony Friary, home to our local community of Franciscan Friars.

“The friars living there will move on to new assignments after June 13, the Feast of St. Anthony, following a special Mass of gratitude. We invite friends to join us at the friary that day for a reception following the 10 a.m. Mass.”

The property likely will be put on the market, he said.

Gonchar said he will be moving on to Holy Family Friary in Pittsburgh. Spond has yet to be reassigned.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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