YONKERS, N.Y.— Yonkers pastors are preparing to receive new parishioners with the recent announcement of mergers throughout the Archdiocese of New York.
“We are welcoming these people with our hearts and arms wide open,” said the Rev. José Ortega, pastor St. Peter's Catholic Church at 91 Ludlow St.
“We are just starting this process, but from our side what's important to us is that people feel like they belong here and that this will be their new home for worship.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced on Sunday that 55 parishes from Staten Island to the Catskills would merge, including a dozen in Westchester.
Under the announcement St. Peter will become the main parish church for St. Denis Church, which is about a mile away at 470 Van Cortland Park Ave.
The Church of Saint John the Baptist, at 670 Yonkers Ave., will now become the main place of worship for congregants at Most Holy Trinity at 18 Trinity Plaza, which is about 1.6 miles away.
The announcement states that though St. Denis and Most Holy Trinity churches may still be used on special occasions, Masses and sacraments will only be celebrated at the main parish on a regular basis.
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“Yesterday when we announced this in all the parishes, the people here they had mixed feelings,” Ortega told Daily Voice. “They were sad for the people in the other parish, but they were happy since there was a sense that we are going to grow here and have more members in our family.”
St. Peter’s congregation is about 75 percent Hispanic, and currently has about 2,000 people who attend church on the weekends. St. Denis Church was built in 1911 and was originally known as a community center for Irish Catholics in Yonkers.
A 2010 article in Catholic New York, states that the congregation is more like the “United Nations” now with a half Latino population and parishioners with Caribbean, South America, Philippines, India and Irish-American heritage.
“Working side by side with Father Jean-Paul Soler, pastor of St. Denis, we hope to work together to build a united family, in which we can all feel the love and the mercy of God, and grow spiritually,” said Ortega.
Ortega says it is too early to tell what the fate of the St. Denis property will be. He plans to start devising the logistics of merging services, like religious instruction, Mass and sacraments, that will take place next year.
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