A Catholic church in Northampton County has closed permanently due to declining parishioners and rising maintenance costs, according to the Allentown Diocese.
The former St. Lawrence the Martyr Roman Catholic Church, now maintained by St. John Fisher Parish, closed last Friday in North Catasauqua. Parishioners learned of the closure during weekend masses.
The Reverend Eric Gruber, parish administrator, said in a press release issued by the diocese Monday that the costs of maintaining the building and repairing the entrance could no longer be borne by the parishioners of St. John Fisher. Fundraising to cover those costs was also not feasible, he said.
While Gruber recommended the church be closed, the decision was ultimately made before the parish council and the Diocesan Pastoral Planning Commission. The leaders of these groups then recommended the closure to Bishop Alfred Schlert.
The church said it would remove all of its sacred images, furnishings, vessels and altars for use by St. John Fisher Parish or another parish. Proceeds from the sale of the old church or items such as stained glass will also go to the parish, the statement said.
The Diocese nearly a decade ago merged two of its Catasauqua area churches — St. Lawrence the Martyr and St. Andrew — in a renowned parish, called St. John Fisher. The decision to merge was then in response to changing demographics and a reported shortage of priests. A third parish in Catasauqua, Annunciation BVM (St. Mary’s) at 122 Union St., was unaffected by the merger.
St. John Fisher has since used the St. Andrew’s building, 1239 Third St., in North Catasauqua.
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann can be contacted at [email protected].