Masses at St. Patrick Church transferring to St. Aidan

Masses at St. Patrick Church transferring to St. Aidan

CUMBERLAND – Calls to St. Patrick Church are answered with a greeting from “St. Aidan and St. Patrick Parishes,” but staff members say the churches are not yet officially merged.

Rev. Msgr. Jacques Plante, pastor of St. Aidan Parish at 1460 Diamond Hill Road and administrator at St. Patrick Parish at 301 Broad St., said the two churches are still separate organizations, and the process of potentially merging them will play out over the next year.

In addition to declining attendance at St. Patrick Church, the physical condition of the building itself is also deteriorating, said Plante. Things have gotten so bad due to a leak in the heating system that heating bills are now going as high as $1,600 each month in the winter.

Plante has announced to parishioners that Masses for the “St. Patrick community” will be transferred to St. Aidan Parish the weekend of Oct. 21-22, allowing the church to save money on heating bills during the colder months.

“We can’t afford to heat it for Mass in winter,” he said.

Plante announced the changes to parishioners in the church bulletin.

Weekly giving is also down at St. Patrick Church, from approximately $1,800 each week to about $1,200, said Plante, which is exacerbating the problem.

Bishop Thomas Tobin, in a letter to Plante on Aug. 10, gave permission to transfer weekend Masses beginning Oct. 21 and continuing through mid-April 2018. That would put the last Masses at St. Patrick on the weekend of Oct. 14-15.

“The request comes particularly in light of the uncertain condition of the heating system at St. Patrick Church,” wrote Tobin to Plante. “In granting this approval, it is my understanding that this permission does not constitute any formal action regarding the canonical status of St. Patrick Church or Parish, but that those questions are being actively studied.”

Tobin extended his prayers and blessings to Plante and his parishioners “during this time of transition.”

All office operations are now at St. Aidan Parish, said Plante.

First founded in 1861, St. Patrick Church was “created in an age when people walked everywhere,” said Plante. Back then, he said, going to Catholic church was “part of the culture.” Today, he said, U.S. culture doesn’t find people grouping together nearly as much as they did in those earlier days.

Plante said he understands that some members of St. Patrick Church are upset at the planned closing next month. The news has been especially hard for longtime members.

“You grew up in a certain building and you get used to it,” he said, just like “we all love our mother and think she’s the most beautiful.” Eventually, he said, people realize that the building they grew up in might not still be what it once was.