Greensburg diocese to close 6 'chapels of convenience'
Linda Horrell understands the Diocese of Greensburg needs to close six chapels because of an ever-dwindling priest population.
But that doesn't assuage her sadness knowing that she'll no longer be able to attend Mass at St. Ann Chapel in Wilpen, which is part of Holy Trinity Parish in Ligonier.
"It's going to be sad. It's a very special little chapel with a strong sense of family down there," said Horrell, 50, of Ligonier Township, who has attended Mass at the chapel since 1983. "I actually live closer to Holy Trinity than I do to St. Ann's. I chose to go to church there because of the quaint community, the people that were there and the church there. It just felt like home."
The diocese announced this week that it will close the six "chapels of convenience" used for weekend Masses effective Jan. 2, 2008. The final Mass at the chapels will be celebrated Dec. 30.
The chapels are all part of larger parishes and offer weekend Masses in addition to those at the larger church.
In addition to St. Ann Chapel, the closing chapels are:
• Two chapels of Holy Family Parish, Seward, in Bolivar and New Florence;
• Chapel of All Saints Parish, Masontown, Fayette County, in McClellandtown;
• Chapel of St. James Parish, Maxwell, Fayette County, in Isabella;
• Chapel of St. Patrick Parish, Brady's Bend, Armstrong County, in Sugar Creek.
Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt said in a statement that the decision was made because of a drastic decline in the number of priests in the diocese, particularly the deaths of seven priests this year.
While three of those priests were retired, they often filled in for priests who were on vacation or ill.
"I recognize that the uncertainty and sadness caused in times of change is difficult," Brandt said in a letter read at recent Masses at the chapels, "but be assured that the spiritual, sacramental and pastoral needs of your entire community and the health and welfare of the priests assigned to you are of foremost concern in my mind."
Brandt said the decision was made based on the deaths as well as recommendations made to him by the diocese's Strategic Planning Steering Committee. That committee compiled information and opinions gathered at a series of listening sessions held at parishes last year.
The closings mean that 19 chapels of convenience have closed since 1996. About 22 to 100 people attended weekend Masses on average at the six chapels about to close, diocesan spokesman Jerry Zufelt said.
More changes are to come.
Brandt said the deaths simply sped up a process of implementing changes recommended by the steering committee.
"We thought we had one to two years to get into implementation of recommendations from the strategic planning process," Brandt said. "We don't have that luxury anymore."
The diocese, which has 18 regional councils at the moment, will reduce that number to 10, Zufelt said. The new councils will convene after the first of the year to discuss potential changes.
"It is an opportunity for people to get together to look at the needs for the region and make recommendations that will help the region both help the church and the region," Zufelt said.
Horrell said she knew the end was near as St. Ann closed for the winter in recent years.
"You can't have priests at all these little mission churches when they barely have enough coming into the diocese to start with to cover the major churches," she said.
Horrell will simply attend Mass at Holy Trinity, as she does during the winter.
"Life changes, and you just have to adjust accordingly," she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Miami (Fla.) gets prepared to take on ‘physical’ Pitt team
- Four helicopters respond to Route 51 crash in Rostraver
- Alpine touring skiing movement faces uphill climb in Western Pa.
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Leechburg boys set to go up-tempo
- District Game of the Week: Assumption at Slippery Rock
- Penguins 4th line is showing promise
- Newsmaker: Kostas Pelechrinis
- Donegal VFW to host Hunters Breakfast on opening day
- Leechburg girls set out to build on breakout season
- EPA works on algae rules to protect from toxins found in lakes, rivers