NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven’s eight Roman Catholic churches officially merged into one parish on Saturday, but the separate buildings are expected to remain open.

The new parish, called the Blessed Michael McGivney Parish, met for the first time on Sunday at Saints Aedan and Brendan’s Church.

The merger was announced by the archbishop a year ago in a formal decree.

“I was hoping that by coming together, we would be able to maintain the distinct identities of the faith communities and the implementation committee has been doing a good job to do that,” said Deacon Martin O’Connor, the administrator for the parish.

Church officials hope the merger will create a stronger, more connected faith community.