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Cardinal Seán O’Malley has approved the merger of St. Ann and St. Brendan parishes into a new Catholic parish in a move that will keep both church buildings open under a new name. In a letter sent to parishioners today, Fr. Brian Clary said that the merger will take effect on July 1.
"On that day, the two parishes will end, and one new parish will be established with two worship sites and campuses,” Clary wrote. “All the assets and liabilities of the former parishes will be under one parish. With the Cardinal’s approval, we move forward. It is a daunting but exciting opportunity.”
One immediate task will be finding a new name for the combined parish. While each church building will keep its current name, the parish itself will have a new name. Fr. Clary said parishioners are invited to submit their ideas through July 15 and three finalists will be sent to the Cardinal.
“When submitting a name, two things are important: (1) give the name and (2) offer a reason for the name. You might think only in terms of a “saint’s name” but there are many other possibilities (Holy Trinity, Incarnation, Holy Family, Gate of Heaven are parishes around the Archdiocese)… The key is the reason why!”
Clary and his co-pastor Fr. Bob Connors made the request for a merger in May, warning that “time is running out” as they face a growing and “insurmountable debt.”
There have been clear warning signs that such a merger might be inevitable. Clary and Connors have worked with lay leaders over the past two years to confront a growing debt and deferred maintenance problems. Parishioners mounted a vigorous public campaign to raise funds and attendance in response.
Clary also reported today that he will return to full-time duty as pastor at the end of June after a long health leave.
“It has been quite a ride, but with a clean bill of health from my doctors and feeling well, I look forward being back to full ministry. Thanks for all your prayers and concern. It helped a lot,” he wrote.
Paul Sopher, secretary of evangelization and discipleship for the Boston archdiocese, explains both churches have been working collaboratively for the past six years because of debt. They had been sharing resources but had remained separate parishes. Parishioners will be able to continue worshiping in the church they have been attending.
Sopher says the move will bring unity in more ways than just financial stability. He says parishioners can now plan for the future.
"The conversations about all the things they need to do [to] achieve stability for the parish, they will be able to have that as one community rather than two distinct communities that are then trying to find some common ground," he said.
This story was originally published by the Dorchester Reporter. WBUR and the Reporter have a partnership in which the news organizations share stories and resources to collaborate on stories.
This article was originally published on June 26, 2020.
WBUR's Paul Connearney contributed reporting.
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