Port Richmond parishes to undergo further merger.

Nativity B.V.M. Church

By Melissa Komar

The remaining parishes in Port Richmond will consolidate once again.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput had accepted recommendations by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee to merge the remaining four parishes in the River Wards neighborhood.

Per the recommendations, Saint Adalbert Parish, Saint George Parish and Mother of Divine Grace Parish will merge with Nativity B.V.M. Parish as of July 1.

The decision is part of the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative, an archdiocesan effort begun in 2011 to plan for the long-term sustainability of Catholicism in the city.

Parishioners at the affected parishes were informed of the changes at weekend Masses.

Saint Adalbert Church will become the worship site of the newly merged Nativity Parish, which means it will be the site of daily and Sunday Masses for all parishioners.

The churches of the former parishes will remain open and still serve as worship sites, being utilized for sacraments, feast days and traditional devotions for the present time. Sunday Masses may be held at the former parishes based on pastor and pastoral council approval.

The Rev. James P. Olson, pastor of Nativity B.V.M. Parish and parochial administrator of Mother of Divine Grace and Saint George parishes, has been appointed pastor of the new parish.

The Revs. James Gorman and Jan Palkowski will serve as parochial vicars with the status of senior priests. Palkowsi will also be pastor emeritus of Saint Adalbert Parish.

A transitional team composed of lay people from each former parish will be formed and all parish property, assets and debts will be taken on by the new parish.

The new parish will also have a Polish Apostolate to continue providing Mass and sacraments for the Polish-speaking population in the neighborhood.

According to the archdiocese, the decision to merge the remaining parishes into one parish was based on several factors, including “demographic shifts in the Catholic population and high density of parishes in a small area as well as declines in Mass attendance, sacramental activity, the availability of priests to staff parishes and a review of facilities and physical plant for structures at all of the parishes involved.”

The remaining parishes make up Pastoral Planning Area 570, which entered the planning process in October 2014.

In January 2016, the archdiocese announced the first step of the merger, which included the merger of Our Lady Help of Christians and Nativity parishes and the partnering of MDG and St. George.

The second step took effect in June 2017, with the partnering of the newly formed Nativity parish and MDG  and St. George.

For updates on the Pastoral Planning Initiative,

visit http://archphila.org/features/parish-planning-initiatives.