South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Group working to preserve St. George Church


The St. George Church Preservation Society (SGCPS), a group of St. John Vianney parishioners, is planning to appeal Bishop David Zubik’s decision to close St. John Vianney Church, (formerly St. George Church) in Allentown.

After meetings with Bishop Zubik and providing an alternative proposal, the SGCPS is prepared to appeal the decision once it is published and analyzed.

This appeal process involves several steps starting at the diocese, then to the Vatican with the congregation for the clergy and then to the Apostolic Signatura. The SGCPS has been in contact with canon lawyers in Rome who are interested in representing the parishioners when needed.

A church restoration fund has been launched by the organization at Save St. George Church

On January 23, 2016, Bishop Zubik issued two separate decrees regarding St. John Vianney.

One decree addresses the St. John Vianney Church building:

This decree closes the church and calls for removal of the stained glass windows and other sacred and non-sacred artifacts.

The decree also makes reference to a Pastoral and Finance Council petition of August 31, 2015. At that meeting, a proposal was presented by the bishop’s advisers that indicated: “That if so relegated, the church building would be demolished and its contents be salvaged.”

The SGCPS is preparing to appeal only the decree that addresses the church building.

St. George Church Preservation Society was organized to support the operation and restoration of the church over a number of years. According to the organization, during the recent Church Alive! campaign, a modest number of parishioners were able to pledge $456,000.

A similar fund-raising drive and pledge campaign is being started by SGCPS. A reserve of funds is needed to demonstrate throughout the appeal process that SGCPS has the ability to cover the costs of supporting the church.

The second decree addresses the total division of St. John Vianney Parish:

This decree defines the division of the parish territory and the disposition of the assets and liabilities.

The decree also makes reference to the meeting on August 31, 2015. At that meeting, the same proposal presented by the Bishop’s advisers also indicated: “That the non-performing loans of the parish be written off against the reserves of the Parish Deposit and Loan Trust Fund Program.”

The SGCPS noted the debt accumulated over decades from four parishes which were merged to create the St. John Vianney Parish is not owed to an external bank, but it is owed to the trust fund that is controlled by the diocese.

An organization spokesperson said none of the money raised by the St. George Church Preservation Society will be used to pay the debt of St. John Vianney Parish.


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