Saint Monica prayed for her rebellious son, Saint Augustine, to strengthen his faith in the late 4th century. Now four parishes in Beaver County want to strengthen their faith community by merging into one — christened Saint Monica.
Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik has announced that the parishes of Christ the Divine Teacher, Divine Mercy, Saint Philomena and Saint Rose of Lima will consolidate starting July 15.
Episcopal Vicar Reverend Samuel Esposito said the parishes had been working together since 2007.
“They’re going to be able to do things together that they couldn’t do separately, so they have a stronger youth ministry, they have a stronger outreach to the poor, they would have a stronger catechetical program, so all those little things that you can’t do very well with a smaller group of people, once you have the numbers together, you have the resources,” Esposito said.
Christ the Divine Teacher, Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Philomena will serve as the parish’s church buildings, and Divine Mercy Academy will remain the territory’s school.
Esposito said the parish’s pastors and finance councils petitioned Zubik to consolidate.
“Everybody has to realize that the reality of our western Pennsylvania area is that we’re not the way we used to be 50 years ago, that there are fewer people, that the people we do have are older, that there are certainly fewer priests, that there are fewer other resources, as well,” Esposito said.
Pastor Kim Schreck of Christ the Divine Teacher and Saint Rose will be Saint Monica’s first pastor, while Saint Philomena and Divine Mercy pastor James Farnan will move to Saint Thomas More Parish in Bethel Park.
The creation of a new combined parish has been in talks for nearly five years with parish-wide town hall meetings, surveys and reports.
Esposito said the parishes wanted to combine so badly, they kept asking him what was taking so long.
“This is really a wonderful example of people who understand that church is not buildings, that church is really the call to continue the message of Jesus and to be the Gospel," he said. "It doesn’t matter if you’re under a tent, in a parking lot, on a barge in the river, that it’s really the ministry and the mission that we’re about."