Two West Hartford parishes has just started sharing a pastor and the Archdiocese of Hartford has indicated the goal of ultimately having one pastor for all three parishes on the northern side of town.
By Kristina Vakhman
The Archdiocese of Hartford is continuing its reorganization of area parishes as part of its “pastoral planning,” with three more in West Hartford to merge.
In a letter to Catholic parishioners in West Hartford, the Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, said that parishes St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Timothy will share one pastor, Fr. Alvin LeBlanc, as of Jan. 1, 2021. Fr. Edward Moran, who had been the pastor at St. Thomas, will be relinquishing his full-time duties for health reasons, the archbishop said.
St. Peter Claver will remain a separate parish for now, but Blair wrote that it will be combined with the two parishes some time in the future.
Blair explained in the letter that the reorganization is necessary because of the “diminishing practice of the [Catholic] Faith and of church attendance,” as well as due to the “ever diminishing number of priests.”
David Elliott, associate director of communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said that beyond the change of one pastor serving multiple sites, there are “no firm dates” regarding the further merging of St. Thomas and St. Timothy parishes, nor has a name yet been decided, though it is expected that there will be one. As of now, he said, the buildings will both stay active.
“It could very well be possible that St. Tim’s and St. Tom’s remain operational and open, but that they’re united as one community of the parish of Saint ‘X,’” Elliot said.
He added that it’s unclear when St. Peter Claver will be reorganized, as West Hartford is currently in need of more than one parish because of the town’s size.
This reorganization is part of a “municipal model” that has been going on for many years. The idea is to have one parish for towns with one high school, while perhaps maintaining more than one parish in larger municipalities such as West Hartford.
In the southern part of West Hartford, the Archdiocese merged parishes St. Brigid, St. Helena and St. Mark the Evangelist back in 2017, under the name of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Fr. Joseph Devine serves as pastor.
While all three buildings remain open, other Catholic groups are using them. In his letter, Blair notes that the “quasi-parish of St. Andrew Dung-Lac leases the St. Mark’s property, and the Syro-Malabar community utilizes the St. Helena property for its services.
On the north side of town, St. Timothy Middle School and St. Thomas the Apostle began sharing one principal in 2018 to combine certain administrative functions.
There are currently no plans to further consolidate parishes on the south end of town. More information on the reorganization of West Hartford’s parishes will come as the Archdiocese’s transition team determines the best step forward, Elliot said.
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