CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Financial issues and declining attendance have spurred the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden to consolidate some more churches.
The latest mergers, which take effect June 30, involve several churches in Camden County.
Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan says Emmaus Catholic Community of Mount Ephraim will be joined with St. Rose of Lima, which is based in neighboring Haddon Heights. St. Francis Church in Barrington, which is now a part of St. Rita’s Parish in Bellmawr, also will become part of St. Rose.
The other consolidation involves combing two churches in Bellmawr. Sullivan said Mary Mother of the Church, which is now part of St. Rita’s, will join with St. Joachim’s Parish.
The Camden Diocese includes Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Camden counties.
Sullivan’s decrees announcing the consolidations noted “serious financial difficulties” at Emmaus Catholic Community and a decline in revenue and Mass attendance in St. Rita’s parish. The bishop also said the mergers would allow for more effective use of clergy and church employees.
Emmaus Catholic Community was formed by the June 2010 merger of two parishes — Sacred Heart in Mount Ephraim and Holy Maternity in Audubon. St. Rita’s was created by the May 2010 combination of Mary Mother of the Church in Bellmawr, St. Frances de Sales in Barrington and St. Gregory of Magnolia. The latter closed in 2010.
The 2010 mergers were part of a diocesan makeover led by Sullivan’s predecessor, Bishop Joseph Galante. Those mergers reduced the number of parishes in the six-county diocese from 124 to 70.
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)