Only one Roman Catholic priest will now serve the parishes of Assumption/St. Paul in Mechanicville and St. Peter the Apostle in Stillwater, according to the Rev. Jim Kane, administrator at St. Peter’s.
That will be down from three priests earlier this year, before the assistant pastor in Mechanicville, the Rev. Edward Dixey, was transferred away. There is a shortage of Catholic priests in the Albany Diocese and throughout the United States.
Kane said it is not yet decided whether he will be the local priest or whether it will be the Rev. Keith Hollis, pastor at Assumption/St. Paul. That decision will ultimately be up to Bishop Howard Hubbard.
Hollis could not be reached for comment, but he and Kane signed a joint letter to parishioners that referred to Dixey’s departure and changes in the Mass schedule.
Weekend Masses will continue in both parishes, and, during the summer, at St. Isaac Jogues Chapel on Saratoga Lake, which is part of St. Peter’s Parish. During the week, St. Peter the Apostle in Stillwater will have only one scheduled Mass on Monday evening. The William Street Church in Mechanicville will hold 9 a.m. Masses Tuesday through Friday.
Kane said it was decided to have most daily Masses in Mechanicville, rather than Stillwater, because some people in the city walk to church and would have difficulty getting to Stillwater, whereas almost everybody attending St. Peter the Apostle arrives by automobile.
Ken Goldfarb, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, said he did not have information about the local changes, but said that the diocese is in the midst of a two-year planning process that takes into account the priest shortage and changing demographics, and involves two or more parishes working together on joint plans. He said similar planning projects are under way in many other American dioceses.
Goldfarb said there are 39 local planning groups. Kane said the Assumption/St. Paul and St. Peter’s parishes make up one of the groups.
The local plans were to be submitted by the end of June, Goldfarb said, and are now being evaluated. Hubbard expects to announce the diocese-wide plan in January, Goldfarb said.
It is expected that there will be church closures elsewhere in the diocese as part of this “Called to Be Church” planning process.
St. Paul the Apostle Church on North Main Street in Mechanicville was built in 1912. The imposing, red-stone structure is at the corner of William Street, and to the west of it is a now-vacant Catholic school, which was built in 1925. A little farther west is what is now known as the William Street Church, another substantial building constructed as the Church of the Assumption in 1919, only seven years after the nearby St. Paul’s. St. Paul’s was historically associated with Irish-Americans, and Assumption with Italian-Americans. Continuing west on William Street, there is an Augustinian Friary and the Catholic parish center building.
St. Paul’s and Assumption are now combined as one parish, but St. Peter’s remains a separate parish.
More from The Daily Gazette: