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April 2, 2014

Roseville churches announce merger plan

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

ROSEVILLE — A pair of Roseville Catholic parishes are merging with a neighboring one in Fraser, as of July 1.

Sacred Heart, St. Athanasius and Our Lady Queen of All Saints will be combining to form a new parish, St. Pio of Pietrelcina. The new parish will have one pastor, Grzegorz Rozborski. According to Joe Kohn, public relations spokesman with the Archdiocese of Detroit, the plan concludes the area’s portion of the archdiocese’s Together in Faith program.

He said that the parishes have been working on a merger plan for the past couple years, with that process finishing this summer. Kohn said that the archdiocese has not received any information on what the new parish will do with the three different church buildings.

“That’s up for the parish to decide. At this point, the three separate church buildings will still be in use,” Kohn said. “How they want to divvy the Masses up between those is something they decide on the parish level.”

Kohn said there is no required timetable in place for the parish to settle that issue, and that the archdiocese already has approved of its merger plan. He does expect that the parish eventually will use fewer sites in the future as a way to save on costs.

Pastors Ron Babich, of Our Lady Queen of All Saints, and Eugene Katcher, of the Roseville churches, could not be reached for comment on additional plans. Rozborski also was unavailable.

Kohn described the Together in Faith program as a planning program designed to help parishes better use their available resources.

“It’s resulted in a lot of mergers and a lot of cost-savings, but it’s also resulted in a lot more efficient means of ministry and a lot more cooperation between parishes, as well,” Kohn said.

According to a Together in Faith informational packet, as of 2012 in the metro Detroit area, there were 281 priests and 267 parishes. The number of priests is expected to drop to 204 by 2021.

Bishop Michael Byrne wrote in November that a merger would reduce a pastor’s workload and cut administrative costs. He also hoped to see all three buildings continue to operate into the summer of 2015, but he noted that the decision was outside of the archdiocese.

“On July 1, 2014, a new parish community will be erected, a new pastor will be assigned and a new parish council will be formed,” Byrne wrote. “It will be the responsibility of the new pastor and the new parish council to make a determination as to which of the facilities will best serve the needs and mission of the new parish.”

An initial plan to close St. Athanasius was scrapped by Byrne at that time, and he wrote that he believed the initial plan was a premature decision.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kevin Bunch at kbunch@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.