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New Haven merges 8 parishes to strengthen Catholic community

St. Mary's, New Haven, CT

Jon Bilous | Shutterstock

The entrance to St. Mary's Church, in New Haven, Connecticut.

J-P Mauro - published on 07/09/23

The new parish is named for Blessed Michael McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus in New Haven in 1882.

In a move that will consolidate the Catholic community under one roof, the eight Catholic churches of New Haven, Connecticut, have all merged into one. This city-wide parish will share finances and operate under a single administration. The Archdiocese of Hartford intends on keeping the seven remaining buildings open as long as resources allow.

The merger took several months to plan and was formally enacted on July 1, 2023. The newly formed parish, named for Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, celebrated its initial Mass in the church building of the former Sts. Aedan and Brendan parish. The hope is that the merger will create a stronger, more unified parish that can help to spread the Catholic faith in New Haven.

According to Catholic World Report, the merger was supported by Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, who selected Blessed McGivney as the new parish’s patron from a list of suggestions made by a committee of New Haven parishioners. He commented: 

“Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, was an exemplar of charity and steadfast devotion to Christ, still today inspiring millions of people to action for the common good, in the name of God. I will continue to pray for this new parish community and invite all New Haven Catholics to do the same during this time of great Catholic revitalization in the Elm City,” the archbishop wrote in a statement.

The name for the newly merged parish is fitting, as Blessed McGivney has many ties to New Haven. It was in the city that he founded the Catholic fraternity in 1882, and his remains are housed near the entrance of St. Mary’s Church. Also within New Haven is the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center, which was converted from the Knights of Columbus Museum after Fr. McGivney was beatified in 2020.

While the merger has officially taken place, the archdiocese expects the process to take at least a few months. All of the documents from the merged parishes – records of sacraments and historical documents – must be sent to St. Mary’s to further centralize the administration of the parish. Otherwise, life for parishioners should not change very much at present, as local parishes will remain open and active for as long as they can. 

Parishioners of New Haven seem to support the merger and hopeful that it will help to strengthen the church. Speaking to the New Haven Register, parishioner Isabel Carrillo said she believed that the merger would have a revitalizing effect: 

“We are going to be more open to other communities,” Carrillo, 72, said. “I believe, too, that there will be a time (when) all the big events will take place at one church, and the whole Church will get together as one as it’s supposed to be.”

Branford resident John Delcore noted that the merger will likely help take some of the load off New Haven’s priests, who are too few to tend to eight separate parishes: 

“There aren’t many priests to cover all this, so I think (consolidating) is going to help the priests become united with the flock,” Delcore, 74, said. 

Rev. Ryan Lerner, moderator of the citywide parish, noted that there are only eight priests to serve the Catholic community in New Haven, and he doesn’t expect to see any more sent to bolster their ranks: 

“Right now, we’re in a good position, that we have the right number of priests to serve the right number of Masses, so that the people of God who are actually going to church on Sunday have access to Mass,” Lerner said.

Read more from New Haven’s Catholics on the merger at the New Haven Register

CatholicMichael McGivneyUnited States
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