WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — While it’s not the preferred outcome, an upcoming merging of a handful of Waterbury Catholic churches is necessary, according to one official.

“And what do we do now? We grow,” Rev. James Sullivan of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception said. “We grow from here, and I believe we’re set up in such a way to make that happen. So, personally as a pastor, I hear this all the time. I’m grieving. I’m grieving with the people, but at the same time, I’m also enthused about the potential going forward and the great possibility that can be.”

The churches will merge next month due to declining attendance and a shortage of priests.

“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.”

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.

“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.”