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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As sixteen Philadelphia-area Catholic churches merge after this weekend’s masses (see related story), some activists were planning a protest against the process.

Pat Smiley is leading a group who plan to drive or walk through Delaware County and Philadelphia on Saturday, stopping at the 18 churches that closed one year ago (another related story).

“What we’re trying to do is to remember these parishes, (so) the parishioners, the people are not forgotten,” she said today.  “And it does matter when you are closing churches — it matters to a community.”

Smiley called the merger process unfair.

Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin disputes that, saying pastors gather input at the local level.

“What we ask them to do at the very beginning is to go back, to talk with their parish communities, to meet with key lay leadership including their pastoral and their finance councils, and then to come up with recommendations,” he says.

The protest this Saturday begins at the Immaculate Conception Church in Marcus Hook, Pa., and ends at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in center city Philadelphia.

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