Vatican revokes decision to close St. John Vianney Church
Parishioner group receives word order to close Allentown church has been revoked
Last Tuesday, a group of former St. John Vianney parishioners received a letter from the Vatican indicating the decision to close St. John Vianney Church by the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been revoked.
In a statement sent out to fellow supporters, the parishioners said they were "pleased with this news," but were aware this decision could be appealed.
In January of this year, citing mounting debt and a declining attendance, the Diocese decided to close the St. John Vianney Church and Parish and disburse the congregation to nearby parishes. Following the last Mass in early April, the church building was secured and placed under the care of St. Mary of the Mount Parish on Mt. Washington.
The parishioners appealed the decision to close the church first to the Diocese and then to the Vatican with the Congregation for the Clergy and last week received word the closing order had been revoked.
The parishioners hope to enter into a cooperative effort with and work with the Diocese to find a path to success for the historic church. They plan to present a proposal in a collaborative manner to restore and preserve the church.
Preliminary plans could include renovating the church basement (formerly Georgian Hall) to include community space. This space could have an area for the food bank previously located there and also space for community meetings along with storage for historic documents and artifacts provided by the parishioners and the community.
The parishioners note, the physical presence of this Catholic church has been "vital to Allentown and the surrounding Hilltop neighborhoods." Having the church open would provide a great benefit to the neighborhood as there are positive developments occurring in the community.
While hopeful about the decision from the Vatican, the parishioners recognize the Diocese may still appeal the order. In the meantime, they plan to continue a dialog with the Diocese in the hopes of reopening the church.