ST. LOUIS–Sweeping changes throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis dominated discussion during Sunday Masses. It comes a day after Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski announced the results of the All Things New restructuring plan which will reshape the area from 178 individual parishes into 134 parishes and see 155 priests transferring to other parishes.
“My time here has been wonderful, and we’ll get through this,” said Deacon John Flanigan to parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Church in Maplewood Sunday morning. The parish is one of 35 across the area that will be closing and united with another parish.
There will also be 15 parishes merged to create 5 new ones, but with all the church buildings remaining open. A new Spanish-Speaking personal parish will open in St. Charles County.
These changes were part of a nearly two year process to address the decline in Mass attendance, the decline in priests and a shift in where Catholics are living among other concerns.The Archbishop’s final announcement came after listening sessions at parishes and reviewing feedback from the community and religious leaders.
Many of the restructured parishes are in north St. Louis County and north and south St. Louis City.
Rev. Michael Murphy of St. Ferdinand in Florissant became emotional while telling parishioners Saturday evening that their church will remain open but will absorb St. Martin de Porres Parish in Hazelwood and St. Sabina Parish in Florissant.
He also broke the news that he would be heading to Queen of All Saints in Oakville.
“So hard to announce you are going,” said Rev. Murphy. “You come to love people and then you have to say goodbye, it’s hard. I know, in every case, I will meet you in the next parish, just with a different name.”
He is one of dozens of priests moving to new parishes across the archdiocese. The priests from St. Martin de Porres and St. Sabina will be moving to St. Ferdinand once Rev. Murphy leaves.
“It’s kind of a genius move to bring him, representing the people of St. Martin and Father Banden representing people of St. Sabina and you got Father Nick who already knows most of you, bringing us all together as one parish,” said Rev. Murphy.
The restructuring plan also will see the number of active priests drop from 190 to 165 as of Aug. 1. The Archdiocese says with 41% of diocesan priests over the age of 70, 25 retiring this year and another 53 possibly retiring in the next 10 years, if it doesn’t change the way our parishes are configured, by 2025 there would be more parishes than diocesan priests.
Some of the restructuring highlights include:
- A new parish created through merging Holy Name of Jesus in Bissell Hills, St. Angela Merici in Florissant and St. Norbert Parish in Florissant. A permanent name for the new parish will be proposed later
- A new parish created through merging Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Joan of Arch. A permanent name for the new parish will be proposed later
- St. Monica Parish in Creve Coeur will absorb St. John Bosco Parish in Maryland Heights and St. Richard Parish in Creve Coeur
- A new parish erected through merging Immaculate Conception and St. David Parish in Arnold
- Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant will absorb Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Ferguson and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Florissant
- Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights will absorb St. Jude Parish in Overland
While the parish structure will remain unchanged for St. Justin Martyr in Sunset Hills, it will get a new priest. Rev. Bill Kempf shared the news with his parish during Saturday evening’s Mass.
“Remain unchanged in present structure, didn’t see that coming, well mostly saw that coming” remarked Rev. Kempf.
Rev. Kempf will be moving to Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant. Rev. Brian Hecktor,fFormer of St. Mark Parish in Lemay will succeed him.
He went on to remind his parish that they are all called to rededicate themselves to “new modes of evangelization and social outreach.”
Kempf said, “For me a new parish community, for you, to not choose that we dodge that bullet, but rather, there is so much work for us to do in our parish, our corner of the archdiocese.”
Implementation of these changes will begin this summer and may continue through 2026.
Any parishioner who would like to appeal the Archbishop’s decision can do so by sending a written letter. It must be postmarked by June 12, 2023 and sent to Archbishop Rozanski at 20 Archbishop May Dr, St. Louis, Mo. 63119. Phone calls and emails will not be accepted.
You can find all the letters issued to the parishes and additional information on the changes on the All Things New site.