Firm says Johnstown’s St. Patrick’s should be kept open

A Ballston Spa-based architectural firm has advised Holy Trinity Parish that it should keep open St.

A Ballston Spa-based architectural firm has advised Holy Trinity Parish that it should keep open St. Patrick’s Church rather than St. Anthony’s or Immaculate Conception.

Architects from the firm of Butler Rowland Mays Architects spoke at a parish meeting Monday night at Immaculate Conception Church.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has directed Holy Trinity Parish, which encompasses members of all three churches, to close two of the three churches in its effort to cut costs and meet the challenges of declining membership and fewer priests.

The Rev. Kenneth Swain said the parish hired the architects to evaluate whether St. Patrick’s or St. Anthony’s was best suited to serve as the community’s sole remaining church. He said the parish has 500 to 600 members who attend services regularly and one of the two larger churches would be a better fit, rather than the smaller Immaculate Conception.

“The rationale is that way everything can be at one site, because there’s already a school building [at St. Patrick’s], which is being used for religious education. You have the worship site; you can move the administrative offices from the bottom of St. Anthony’s Church down here and make an apartment upstairs as a residence for the priest,” Swain said. “There is a building at St. Anthony’s that, with renovations, could be used for classrooms, but they felt that since we already have [space at St. Patrick’s], why renovate a building.”

In January, after 21⁄2 years of consideration, the Albany Diocese announced that it would close almost 20 percent of its churches by 2011. But not all of the church closings were announced right away. Holy Trinity Parish was told that two of its three churches would close, but which one wasn’t to be decided until today.

Swain said it might actually take until next week for a final decision to come from the Albany diocese, which has the final say. He said Holy Trinity Parish has established a committee of parishioners who will issue a recommendation to the pastoral council today. The council will pass on its recommendation to him, and he’ll send that along to the Albany diocese.

“I can’t say it’s two, two and two, but we’ve made sure there is representation from each of the worship sites on that committee,” he said.

In Johnstown, each of the three churches served one ethnic Catholic group — Irish at St. Patrick’s, Italians at Immaculate Conception and Slovaks at St. Anthony’s. Over the decades, the lines have blurred. At present, Immaculate Conception is used for daily Masses during the week and Sunday Masses are held at both St. Anthony’s and St. Patrick’s.

Pat O’Lucci, the former chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, attended the parish meeting Monday. He said he has been a longtime parishioner at Immaculate Conception and said it’s sad it will likely close. He said he hopes the church uses good judgment in making its decision.

“What has to be has to be; my only concern is that we look at the economy and what the church can support,” he said.

Swain said the diocese will likely attempt to sell the two churches it decides to close.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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