Bishop to decide fate of Mon City churches in early 2014

Pittsburgh bishop evaluating congregation consolidation

November 8, 2013
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
The Transfiguration worship site of St. Damien of Molokai Parish in Monongahela Order a Print
Image description
Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
The St. Anthony worship site of St. Damien of Molokai Parish in Monongahela Order a Print

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.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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