In 2015, twelve of 55 Staten Island churches merged into other parishes, as part of the Archdiocese’s “Making All Things New Again” initiative. Four of those twelve churches closed down permanently and ceased all masses, services and sacraments.
The reason for the merge was because of the lowered attendance rate of the churches in question. Although 55% percent of Staten Island residents are Catholic, the number of people consistently attending church is decreasing with every year.
The Archdiocese was hoping by combining some churches, and eliminating some parishes all together, they could raise the numbers of attendance for each church. However, with the positive effects always come negative effects as well.
By merging these churches, Staten Island residents lost their family parishes. Churches they made every sacrament in and hoped their kids would too. Parishes where they meet their best childhood friend.
Priests and clergy have lost their parishes as well, the familiar faces and friends they have made over years and years disappearing into a crowd of mixed and merged parishes.
“That parish was a part of my life for at least a quarter of a century, an important part,” said Marge Hornblower, a parishioner who attended the last mass at St. Paul’s church in New Brighton last year to say her goodbyes.
Hornblower now attends a different church for weekly service, but admits she “still misses her own parish very dearly.”
Another church on Staten Island who was forced to say their goodbyes was St. Mary of the Assumption in Port Richmond.
“I was married here, confirmed here, had communion here. Me and my friends spent our whole teenage years here, working and helping here,” said Helen Giorlando, who traveled from Rockland County, New York to attend the last mass last year.
She attends church in Rockland County now, but had hoped that her children would consider coming back to St. Mary’s to get married in her old parish.