MASSILLON – The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown merges the three churches of the city into a single parish from January 1.
The merged church will be called Divine Mercy Parish.
After consulting with parish officials and a review of pastoral statistics, Bishop David J. Bonnar acted on the recommendation of Reverend Maciej “Matthew” Mankowski, pastor of St. Barbara, St. Joseph, and St. Mary’s Churches, to merge the three parishes.
In accordance with ecclesiastical law, the decision was taken after also hearing the opinion of the presbyteral council of the diocese, which was unanimous.
More Catholic news in Massillon:St. Barbara Catholic School closes; low enrollment, loss of faculty and risk of indebtedness cited
The three churches will keep their names, but will operate under the new name.
There will also be a shared Mass schedule.
Bonnar chose the new name from among three names proposed by parishioners to evoke the importance that Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis have placed on the mercy and love of God expressed in the liturgy, service and through the popular “Divine Mercy” devotions. says the diocese.
In a letter read to parishioners over the weekend announcing the merger, Bonnar expressed gratitude for how parishioners worked together to prepare for the transition, including a meeting he held with representatives from the three parishes. in June.
Mankowski, who had previously served for a year as a pastor at Sainte-Barbe, was named pastor of the three parishes in July.
“Since that time, your parish communities, who were already taking important steps to come together, have moved these efforts forward with passion and commitment,” Bonnar wrote in his post. “I am excited about how the Catholic community in Massillon is taking a regionalized approach to Catholic life, with a shared Mass schedule, a school, new deployment opportunities for creative programming, and – most notably – a sense of to be one family in Christ.
Bonnar also noted that the Sanctuary of St. Dymphna, located in St. Mary’s Church, will continue with the same name and mission under Mankowski’s leadership.
Saint Dymphna is the patroness of people with mental and nervous disorders.
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The merger is part of the diocese’s multi-year regional plan for its six-county area, which began under the late Bishop George Murry, with criteria that include numbers of parishioners and congregants, parish finances, use efficiency of buildings, the number of priests and the use of lay church ministers.
The plan was formulated in response to a shortage of available priests and declining parish student enrollment and parish membership, which have been consistent with northeast Ohio’s dwindling population. .
The majority of priests in the diocese have multiple responsibilities in several parishes, diocesan directorates and schools.
In addition to serving the three parishes of Massillon, Mankowski is also pastor of the Sainte-Famille parish of Brewster and Navarre.
The parishes of Massillon and Navarre-Brewster, like other areas of the diocese, are also served by shared clergy and lay church ministers, including Deacon Brook Benedict (transitional deacon in final preparation for the priesthood), Patricia Condello as as a diocesan pastoral associate, and additional ministry personnel.
A diocesan pastoral associate is a layperson or deacon appointed by the bishop who is part of a leadership team and shares administrative responsibilities.
Regional planning also includes a “service needs assessment” to explore the needs for service and mission works in each region.
This story will be updated.
A history of the Catholic churches of Massillon
- Sainte Marie: 206 Cherry Road NE. Founded by German and Irish settlers in 1839; first building, 1842, first school 1849; destroyed by arson, fire of 1852 and rebuilt in 1853; current building built in 1875; Rev. Philip Foley, first resident pastor, assisted by two priests from Canton, the Revs. John Luhr and John Jacomet.
- Saint Joseph : 323 Third St. SE. Founded in 1852 by Irish parishioners following the fire of St. Mary’s; first mass celebrated at the Stone Block at Tremont and Erie streets; building dedicated in 1854; first resident pastor, 1863; current building dedicated in 1892; added to the National Register of Historic Places, 2010.
- Saint Barbara: 2813 Lincoln Way NW. Founded in 1867 by 33 West Brookfield families (incorporated into Massillon in 1927); school founded in 1866, closed in 2022; building dedicated on December 19, 1867; the Reverend George Verlet, first pastor; Reverend John Kleekamp, first resident pastor, 1881. Current building dedicated in 1951. Saint Barbara is the patroness of miners.