Bishop Joseph A. Galante formerly announced the establishment of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, formed through the consolidation of Assumption Church, Galloway, and St. Nicholas, Egg Harbor, effective Sept. 5.
The announcement establishing the new parish was made in a formal decree, which is published in this edition of the Catholic Star Herald (pages 14-15).
Father Nicholas Dudo has been named to a six-year term as pastor of the new parish, which will serve approximately 3,200 families in the Galloway and Egg Harbor City areas of Atlantic County.
Assumption Church will serve as the seat of the newly-formed parish, while St. Nicholas Church will be maintained as a worship site.
“Though the challenge of merging was real, the faithful of each parish were open to the grace of the Holy Spirit and were able to move past their personal feelings and displayed great charity in accomplishing this mission,” said Father Dudo.
“As the community continues to work as one, the hope is that we will be strengthened both personally and corporately to provide greater ministry and outreach as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. In joining together and building new relationships the parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, through the intercession of our Patroness, will be creating a foundation for the future,” he said.
The merger in Galloway marks the end of a process which saw 38 mergers in a diocesan-wide reconfiguration that was the result of years of study by parish and deanery planners, who considered population and demographic trends.
“As we come to an end of this merger process, I am most grateful to all parishioners in the diocese, especially conveners and core teams, whose sacrifices, hard work, and dedication have brought about what has been accomplished,” said Bishop Galante.
“As we go forward, we (create) more inviting, more active, and more vibrant parishes” to meet the needs of the faithful, and help them learn how to “know Jesus more intimately, love Jesus more ardently, and live Jesus more totally.”
The first merger took place in 2009, with the creation of the Catholic Community of Christ Our Light in Cherry Hill, which brought together the parish communities of St. Peter Celestine and Queen of Heaven (see page 3).
Since then, the number of parishes in the diocese has gone from 124 to 70.
Deacon Larry Farmer, director of mergers for the Diocese of Camden, called the last few years a “grassroots” collaboration of more than 800 people in the diocese to strengthen the church. Bishop Galante’s April 2008 intentions were borne out of this work, he said.
Deacon Farmer praised the priest conveners, core team members, and other parish leaders for their faith-filled dedication and creativity in bringing about these mergers. He praised Bishop Galante for his “leadership and courage” throughout the process.
“Bishop’s plan always came from what he saw, and heard,” Sister Antoine Lawlor, director of Pastoral Priorities, said.
She and Deacon Farmer believe that the reconfiguration process has awakened local Catholics to a better understanding of their baptismal call and how to use their gifts in revitalizing the Church in the Camden Diocese.
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