-- Catholic News Agency
Philadelphia Parish Closing Because Of Low Attendance, Safety Issues
PHILADELPHIA, PA., September 26 (CNA) .- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has approved the closure of a Philadelphia parish due to low Mass attendance and a church building whose physical condition creates "safety issues."
The archbishop announced the closure of Ascension of Our Lord Parish, located in the Harrowgate section of northeast Philadelphia, on Sept. 25. The closure is effective Oct. 1.
"Due to serious issues with the physical condition of the Ascension of Our Lord church building, it had not been utilized for quite some time," the Philadelphia archdiocese said. "Masses were being celebrated in the parish rectory and the former school building due to safety issues with the church building and low Mass attendance."
The necessary physical improvements have an estimated cost of $3 million.
Parishioners were informed of the closure through announcements at weekend Masses.
The parish school closed in 2011.
Former parishioners can attend the church of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, which is less than one mile away, or the church of Holy Innocents Parish, which is about 1.7 miles away. The parishes will divide responsibility for the former parish's assets, debts, buildings and sacramental records.
Archbishop Chaput closed the parish at the recommendation of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, which is examining all 257 parishes of the archdiocese to evaluate their viability.
The closure of Ascension of Our Lord parish is part of ongoing restructuring that began in 2011. The archdiocese said the restructuring will "ultimately strengthen parish communities" and position them for "future growth and sustainability."
The archdiocese hopes that the restructuring will result in "revitalized parishes" that can better meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of the future.
More planning committee announcements will be made in spring 2013 and 2014.
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