ERIE, Pa. -- Major changes are coming to congregations across the region, including decrees Bishop Lawrence Persico with the Catholic Diocese of Erie made in the restructuring plan.
Sunday marked an emotional day for people in several parishes in the Erie area as the restructuring plan that has been in development for two years became a reality.
This was the final weekend before the Catholic Diocese of Erie's restructuring plan goes went into effect that will impact about 55 percent of the people in the 10,000-square mile Diocese.
"It's very different when you see it on paper than when you have to attend what may be the final mass at the parish that you've been going to maybe your whole or maybe for even generations in your family. Anne-Marie Welsh, director of communications, said.
The restructuring plan has many parts with some parishes partnering with other while some are completely merging.
The Diocese said most notable change will be that St. Casimir Church will now be identified as the parish church for Our Mothers of Sorrows.
Also, Our Mothers of Sorrows now has two secondary churches: Holy Family and St. Ann.
"The buildings will not be closing," Welsh said. "They'll still be available for weddings and funerals and even baptisms. But they'll be secondary churches. So the people who attend those parishes that are merging will now be attending mass at a new parish."
Also part of the plan is that priests are receiving new assignments, including Rev. Dan Arnold who is moving from St. Mark the Evangelist parish to St. Andrew Church.
"It's a way of keeping parishes open and servicing the needs of the people without having to close parishes," Arnold said. "I think it's a stroke of genius for the bishop."
While the Catholic Diocese of Erie is forced to restructure, a church is in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania is expanding.
Rev. Don Baxter, at St. Mark Episcopal Church, said, "It's great to be able to spread out on this day and celebrate and celebrate the joy of what we've accomplished here."
St. Mark blessed and dedicated the $1 million dollar renovations including a larger parish hall and kitchen area on Sunday morning.
Bishop Sean Rowe, of Episcopal Diocese of NWPA, said, "We're celebrating the space, more importantly, the capacity it creates to reach out to the community."
For everything you need to know about the restructuring plan for the Catholic Diocese of Erie, click here: http://www.eriercd.org/planning.htm .
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