WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A Waterbury Catholic church is fighting back against an upcoming merger, appealing to the Vatican for help.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford has made the decision to close a handful of Waterbury churches, citing challenges with low attendance and priest recruitment.
“Despite St. Joseph’s cultural significance among area Lithuanian Catholics, it is difficult to argue the church’s viability as an independent parish, with only a portion of its 67 registered households attending the one Mass celebrated there each week – a Mass celebrated in English, not Lithuanian,” a statement to News 8 from the archdiocese reads. “Given the vocational crisis our archdiocese is facing, it simply is not feasible to dedicate a full-time priest to the parish with the fewest registered parishioners of any Catholic parish in Hartford, New Haven, and Litchfield counties.”
St. Joseph’s parishioners will now attend the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. Lithuanian social activities can continue at the merged parish, according to the archdiocese.
However, parishioners argue that their church should stay open.
This church is quintessential to not only Lithuanian Catholic life, but Lithuanian-American culture, as well as diaspora of Lithuanian people across the world, and the work that Lithuanian-Americans did, especially to ensure Lithuanian freedom and it’s succession into NATO and the European Union,” Christian Allyn, who attends the church, said.
The Waterbury church joins a handful of others that will soon be merging. Earlier this month, the archdiocese announced that some sites in Waterbury, including St. Joseph’s, would close.
“While none of us like change, it has become inevitable,” a letter from Archbishop Leonard Blair on that decision reads. “And while we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts, but must face reality.”
New Haven’s eight Catholic churches merged into a single parish in July.