In late 2018, St. Barbara and Holy Child Roman Catholic churches in Bridgeville joined an administrative grouping with St. Mary Church in Cecil as part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s “Church Alive” initiative to streamline parishes and their staffs.
Those three churches will form an even closer alliance next month when they’re formally merged into a single parish, the diocese announced.
The new Bridgeville/Cecil parish, named Corpus Christi, will officially merge Jan. 6, Bishop David Zubik announced in a recent letter to parishioners.
“This is a pivotal time for our diocese as we plan for the future of the Church of Pittsburgh,” Zubik wrote in his letter.
But for the Rev. Dennis Yurochko, who has served as the grouping’s administrator since last October and will become the new parish’s pastor next month, there won’t be many changes – if any – on the horizon.
“We have been working toward that reality for some time now,” Yurochko said. “We’ve been talking about it for a while. Let’s start thinking more and more about thinking about us as one parish.
“I don’t feel like it’s that big of a shock to anyone,” he added.
Mass will remain at the same times and locations as before, and no churches or buildings will be closed, he said. Most of the changes went into effect even before the grouping was official last year, including moving all of the priests into a rectory at St. Mary’s and consolidating the office into a building at Holy Child.
“It helps that we’re not closing any of the church buildings. (Parishioners are) not feeling like they’re losing their church. No changes on the horizon. That would do more harm than good,” Yurochko said.
“We’re together, we’re going to move forward and work well together,” he added.
Zubik will attend the 11 a.m. Mass on Jan. 12 at Holy Child to officially install Yurochko as the pastor of Corpus Christi.
While Yurochko said the transition has been smooth for the soon-to-be Corpus Christi Parish, Zubik admitted that process to group various other churches in the diocese over the past year has not always been easy.
“However, you are positioning your new parish for more effective ministry by addressing financial needs, sharing resources and allowing your clergy to focus on the spiritual work for which they were ordained,” Zubik wrote in his letter.
A total of 26 parishes in the Pittsburgh region are merging, which will result in eight new parishes. Each of the mergers was requested by the priest-administrator of the grouping. Zubik said he consulted with and received consent from the diocesan Priest Council and Vicars General before approving each request.
No buildings will close when the mergers go into effect, but decisions about which buildings the new parishes use will occur later after consulting parishioners, Zubik said.
The changes are part of the diocese’s ongoing “On Mission for the Church Alive!” strategic plan it began in 2017 as a way to improve efficiencies at various parishes to “prioritize mission over maintenance.”