Much to lose, little to gain by diocese
We are extremely saddened by Bishop Joseph Adamec’s decision to end the celebration of Mass at St. Rochus parish in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The usual causes for the closing of any parish are financial difficulties, structural problems and/or dwindling membership.
None of those existed at St. Rochus. The parish has no debt and has maintained payments to the diocese, regularly meeting and exceeding the annual appeal assessments. All seven St. Rochus church buildings are structurally sound and the membership remains high with 478 families registered, despite Johnstown’s population loss.
St. Rochus is a vibrant, active church with numerous outreach programs to the community and beyond, such as a bimonthly prison ministry at SCI-Cresson, a Stephen Ministry outreach program, monthly food drives for the West End Food Pantry, and the support of many other causes in our area and beyond.
Regularly offered spiritual retreats keep the parishioners fed in their faith.
Little will be gained by the diocese if St. Rochus is closed and much will be lost spiritually, financially and in membership in the Catholic church. Since St. Rochus is a unique, viable parish, many members will have a difficult time finding another Catholic church in the area that provides the loving warmth and caring community that meets their needs and offers much in its Christ-centered outreach and environment.
We pray the decision involving St. Rochus can be altered. The loss will extend far beyond the walls of a small parish in the West End.