All Catholic churches in the Auburn area remain open

A year and a half after a committee recommended the closure of four Catholic churches in Auburn and northern Cayuga County, they appear to be staying open.

The fate of St Alphonsus, St Francis of Assisi and Holy Family churches in Auburn and St Joseph Church in Weedsport was shared by the Revs during a presentation on Tuesday. Frank Lioi and Stephen Karani to Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester.

The four churches have been recommended for closure in April 2021 by a pastoral planning committee formed by the diocese. The diocese asked the committee to examine the nine Catholic churches in the area and make recommendations for closures due to their deteriorating condition, shortage of priests, dwindling attendance and other considerations. The committee recommended that St Hyacinth and St Mary churches in Auburn, Sacred Heart and St Ann churches in Owasco and St Patrick’s Church in Cato remain open.

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However, the prospect of the four churches closing sparked an outcry, culminating in public meetings in Auburn where parishioners shared their concerns with Matano. Shortly thereafter, the bishop announced that no churches would be closed. Instead, in August 2021, he urged parishioners to spend the next year making “concrete efforts to part with unnecessary property and use only those facilities necessary to meet the religious, pastoral, and spiritual needs of the faithful.” to serve”.

That effort was the subject of Lioi and Karani’s presentation to Matano and the diocesan Council of Priests on Tuesday.

While all nine churches remain open, several properties belonging to the diocese will be sold or repurposed, according to a summary of the presentation shared with The Citizen. The vicarages of St. Joseph and St. Alphonsus as well as the former schools St. Alphonsus (last St. Joseph School) and Holy Family are for sale. The priests also noted that St. John’s Church in Port Byron, which was closed in June 2020, had been sold. The Canal Society of New York State converted it into the Samuel Center for Canal History.

The diocese’s repurposed properties include the school and gym at St Hyacinth, used by the new Catholic school, St Albert the Great Academy. The church rectory is sometimes used by Nashville Dominican Sisters in consultation with the St. Albert and Tyburn Academy of Mary Immaculate, as well as other guests. At St. Francis of Assisi, the vicarage is now used as the parish office and the church’s Nacca Hall has been expanded for parish events and meetings.

St. Mary’s rectory will no longer have offices, Lioi and Karani said, leaving only a residence for priests. Schrader Hall in downtown Auburn Church is used for parish events and gatherings, as are the recently repainted parish halls at St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph. At Holy Family, the vicarage will continue to house priests and provide a small meeting room. An architectural firm was also hired to document the condition of the North Street church, which is in need of repairs to the roof and exterior.

The Herz-Jesu-Kirche with vicarage and school will remain. The latter is used as office space by the regional finance director of the diocese.

Matano thanked Lioi and Karani for their presentation.

“The same practice should be continued for all our diocesan parishes,” he told the council, “to be faithful and prudent stewards of the Church’s temporal goods.”

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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