Saint Mary Parish, Saint Benedict-Our Lady of Montserrat Merger

STAMFORD– Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced the merger of Saint Mary Parish and Saint Benedict-Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Stamford into the single parish of Saint Mary. effective on April 19 2020, the Octave of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday.

In a formal decree issues on April 19, 2020, the Bishop formally declared the merger and that “The territorial boundaries of the aforementioned parishes, by this canonical decree, shall be amalgamated to become the boundaries of Saint Mary Parish.”

“The above two parishes be merged through an extinctive union so as to form one parish. This determination has been made to strengthen the pastoral care of the people of God in this area of my diocese, and to address several trends that are of serious concern, including: diminished Mass attendance, lack of sustainability in the face of diminishing income, declining sacramental celebrations, and clergy availability,” the bishop wrote in the Decree.

The Bishop met with parish leaders on January 12, 2020 and with all parishioners during an open meeting on February 9, 2020. The merger was also brought before the Council of Priests on January 23.

In an earlier letter to parishioners, the bishop noted that after having consulted with the Pastor, Father Gustavo Falla, the parish staff and lay leaders of both communities, he made the decision to canonically merge the two parishes.

“I wish to express my sincere thanks to Father Falla, the clergy and your parish lay leaders for their great cooperation and support of this process,” the bishop said. “I believe the merger will be an occasion of great grace for both parish communities, allowing them to come together in greater unity and vitality for years to come.”

The parishes have already shared the same pastor, Fr. Falla, and some parish leaders for the last five years, which should further facilitate the transition to a single parish.

The merger had initially been schedule to take effect on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25, during the celebration of a bi-lingual Mass which the Bishop will celebrate with the priests of both parishes. However, the health and safety precautions put in place for the Coronavirus pandemic, delayed the final decree.

The Bishop said that at a practical level, the merger of the two parishes will not greatly affect the daily life of either community. Both churches will remain open. All existing spiritual activities at both churches will essentially remain unchanged.

Some of the major committees including the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council that advise and assist the pastor will be consolidated over time to help alleviate some of the administrative burden that the clergy carry in their administrative and financial duties towards the parish, he said.

“The merger will also allow both communities to join forces in tackling some of the great challenges we are facing, including the need to involve our youth in the life of our parish, seeking and nurturing vocations to priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life, and our common desire to bring back to active faith those Catholics who have stopped coming to Sunday Mass,” he said.

In 2019, Bishop Caggiano issued canonical decrees merging The Parish of St. Gabriel with the Parish of St. Cecilia in Stamford to create the newly named Parish of St. Cecilia-St. Gabriel; merging the Parish of St. Agnes in Greenwich with St. Catherine of Siena in Riverside to create the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes; and merging of Holy Family Parish in Fairfield and St. Emery Parish in Fairfield into the new Holy Family and St. Emery Parish.

The successful parish consolidations have grown out of the work of the diocesan Synod 2014 and the mandate to create welcoming, vibrant and stronger faith communities.

The mergers are intended to address pastoral trends including diminishing Mass attendance, fiscal sustainability, decreasing sacramental celebrations, and clergy availability. all parishes formed collaborative committees with equal representation to discuss the parish consolidations.

All of the parishes involved formed collaborative committees with equal representation to discuss the parish consolidations and to undertake the mergers through a consultative and collaborative process with parishioners.

Decree Merging the Parishes of Saint Benedict-Our Lady of Montserrat, Stamford, CT and Saint Mary, Stamford, CT Decreto Para la Fusion de las Parroquias de Saint Benedict-Our Lady Of Montserrat, Stamford, CT y Saint Mary, Stamford, CT