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Catholic churches to be consolidated

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MALONE — Within a year, Malone Catholic Parishes no longer will be recognized as four separate parishes, but as one consolidated one.

Though none of Malone’s four churches — Notre Dame, St. Joseph’s and St. John Bosco, along with St. Helen’s in Chasm Falls — will close at the time of consolidation, closures could be considered in the future because of a declining number of parishioners, Malone Catholic Parishes’ pastor, the Rev. Joseph W. Giroux, said Monday.

“We’re becoming one institution,” Father Giroux said, adding that a parish refers to the people who worship at a church, not the buildings itself. The new parish, according to a news release, will be named St. André Bessette. The consolidation will be effective next July 1.

“While the Malone Catholic Parishes often appear to function as one, in reality they remain four distinct institutions,” the news release said.

Consolidating the four parishes under one name will help in terms of uniting finances and being recognized as one institution by the state.

“I’m sure many people will not notice a difference,” Father Giroux said.

With the parishes consolidated into one, Father Giroux said, the institution plans to research the demographics of the parishes and how they have changed throughout the years. Father Giroux noted that on weekends, all four parishes serve a combined 1,000 to 1,100 people. This is a decrease, he said, of about 700 people from 10 years go, a 40 percent decline.

The news release said the parishes were consolidated under one pastor in 2003 and have since shared a pastor and administrative staff.

Father Giroux said the names and worship services for the four churches will not change at this time. However, he stressed the buildings are not the most important things when it comes to religion.

“We can have church without buildings,” he said. “The buildings are nice, but they are not essential.”

St. André Bessette, for whom the new parish will be named, was from Montreal and was canonized in October 2010, according to the release. It said that Bessette lived from 1845 to 1937 and visited Malone several times.

Malone’s first Catholic church was built in 1837, and in 1853 Malone had its first resident priest, according to a timeline provided by Malone Catholic Parishes.

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