Bishop David A. Zubik has issued a decree merging St. Justin Parish into St. Mary of the Mount Parish, Mount Washington.
The merger will be effective February 10, 2013 at which time the Saint Justin church building will be closed.
The merger, which came at the request of both parishes, was announced at Masses in the parishes the weekend of December 15-16.
The merger of St. Justin into St. Mary of the Mount has been under study by parishioners and leadership of both parishes for a number of years with the stated goal of assessing “where we are, where we hope to go, and how we might best accomplish our mission together.”
Both parishes have faced declining populations for many years. With the decreasing number of priests available throughout the Diocese, “only one priest will be available for the pastoral care of the faithful who reside within the territory of these two parishes,” according to Bishop Zubik’s decree.
The economics of the area also make it impossible to support two parishes as there is “no reasonable expectation for an increase of parishioners in the foreseeable future,” according to the decree.
Father Walter Rydzon, pastor of St. Justin, and Father Michael Stumpf, pastor of St. Mary of the Mount, along with the Pastoral and Finance Council of each parish, had formally recommended the merger to Bishop Zubik.
Father Stumpf will remain as pastor of St. Mary of the Mount Parish while the parish will absorb the territory of St. Justin. Father Rydzon will continue as pastor of Saint Justin until February 10.
St. Justin Parish also has served and worked closely with a community of deaf Catholics that have a long affiliation with the parish. That pastoral ministry will continue at Saint Mary of the Mount.
According to the decree, merging Saint Justin into Saint Mary of the Mount will strengthen the parish and “the care of souls would not be diminished by the merger.”
Saint Justin Parish was founded in 1917 and formed from territory served by Saint Mary of the Mount Parish at a time when the city population was growing in the Mount Washington and Beltzhoover neighborhoods. The church building that will be closed was dedicated in 1958.
Saint Mary of the Mount Parish was founded in 1873 and the current church building was dedicated on December 19, 1897.