One month from Sunday, two more Roman Catholic churches in South Jersey will merge into a new parish as Camden Bishop Joseph Galante continues moving ahead with a plan to reduce the number of parishes by more than a third.
Our Lady of Lourdes in Glassboro and Our Lady Queen of Peace in Pitman will form the Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish, serving about 2,240 families, according to the Catholic Star Herald diocesan newspaper.
Both churches will be used as worship sites, with Our Lady of Lourdes the parish seat, the newspaper said. The Rev. James A. Casadia will serve a six-year term as pastor.
On Saturday, recorded phone messages at both churches indicated that while each church has its own Mass and confession schedule, both are served by a single staff and office secretary. A spokesman for the diocese did not return a phone call or respond to an e-mail request for comment.
One leader of the merger process, Lou Granato, told the newspaper that "uplifting" meetings with other team members had quelled his initial concerns about the impact on his small parish at Our Lady Queen of Peace.
Carol Kelly, another team member, said she believed the new parish would "reach out to old friends and new and . . . become the vibrant parish for which we have all prayed and worked."
This latest consolidation follows more than a year of parish reviews focused on population, demographic trends, Mass attendance, and the number of available diocesan priests.
Mass attendance has fallen substantially in the Camden Diocese, which includes Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, and Camden Counties.
The fall Mass count was 114,000 in 2006 and 100,000 in 2010.
The decree combining the two churches, issued by Galante last week, was the 33d merger decree since June 2009.