WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A few Waterbury Catholic churches will merge this fall due to declining attendance and a shortage of priests, according to a letter to parishioners from the Archdiocese of Hartford.

“While none of us like change, it has become inevitable,” a letter from Archbishop Leonard Blair reads. “And while we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts, but must face reality.”

He said that more priests are retiring — with only a few to replace them.

“Waterbury was for a very long time ‘fruitful ground’ for vocations to the priesthood,” Blair wrote. “That, sadly, is no longer the case. So please join me not only in praying and encouraging priestly vocations, but also for a renewal of Catholic Faith and practice among all our people in the Archdiocese and our country.”

Under the change, Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Loreto will merge with the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The Blessed Sacrament campus will then be used by the Catholic Academy of Waterbury. The Blessed Sacrament church will only be used for weddings and funerals.

The St. Michael Parish will merge with the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The St. Joseph Parish will merge with Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The St. Joseph building may be sold.

SS. Peter and Paul Church will no longer host regular Masses and may be sold.

The changes will be effective Sept. 30.

“These changes have all been anticipated, and the time for implementation has come,” Blair wrote. “Hopefully stronger communities will result.”

The decision is the latest in Catholic church closings in the area. St. Francis Xavier Church was merged with All Saints-Todos los Santos Parish in April.

New Haven’s eight Catholic churches merged into a single parish in July.