Bishop David A. Zubik will decide early next year on the fate of two Roman Catholic churches he threatened to close in Monongahela over dissension in the parish.
Zubik is still evaluating local comments on how to bring together the congregations at St. Damien of Molokai Parish’s Transfiguration and St. Anthony’s worship sites, one of which could be closed for a number of reasons, said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
“There is no decision yet,” Lengwin said.
Zubik had set a Monday deadline for members of the congregations to write to him with suggestions on how to find unity in the parish, which has a shrinking church base. The diocese also is facing a priest shortage.
Lengwin said the bishop had yet to read all of the letters he received from Monongahela.
Zubik threatened to dissolve the parish at a Sept. 24 town meeting in Monongahela, after concluding there would be disunity among the two congregations regardless if the diocese closed one of the churches, kept them both open or created a new parish for the entire Mon Valley region of Washington County.
Masses were suspended at St. Anthony’s last year for six months. The diocese reopened the building for one Mass per week after members of the church carried out protests and appealed to Zubik to take charge of the decision-making about the building, rather than the local priest.