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October 17. 2012 11:20PM

Concord's Christ the King parish planning consolidation

CONCORD — Christ the King Catholic Parish is awaiting word on a plan to close two churches and relocate administrative offices in a move to reduce spending.

The parish currently consists of St. John the Evangelist, Sacred Heart and St. Peter’s churches. The proposal calls for closing Sacred Heart and St. Peter’s and merging the congregations into one at St. John the Evangelist, which has the most potential for expansion to accommodate the entire parish, said the Rev. Richard Roberge, pastor of Christ the King.

“This would allow the parish to bring all its ministry and worship to unite at one campus at St. John the Evangelist because it’s the largest of the three campuses,” Roberge said.

St. John the Evangelist also sits on three acres, which allows for more parking.

Roberge said the parish includes 12 buildings within the three campuses and the proposal would reduce maintenance and operating costs by consolidating the properties and moving St. John Regional School to the vacant Rumford School building about two blocks away.

Christ the King has submitted its proposal to the Diocese of Manchester for consideration.

“It’s a plan. It’s not in concrete. We’re moving forward as best we can,” Roberge said. “Now we’re in consultation with the diocese.”

Should Bishop Anthony Libasci and the Diocese approve, Christ the King will present a bid by Nov. 1 to the Concord School District to acquire the Rumford School, which closed at the end of the last school year.

Roberge said the Rumford property would provide much-needed space at St. John school, which has about 230 students, Roberge said. The parish would then move its offices to the current St. John Regional School buildings on South State St., which would be remodelled to house the administration offices and other parish activities.

A planning committee has been looking into possibilities since last spring and told parishioners earlier this month of the proposal to consolidate the three churches into one. The parish itself was formed last year by uniting Concord’s three Catholic churches.

Roberge said the response from parishioners has been as expected — a mix of sadness over leaving behind the churches they have known while understanding the current fiscal circumstances.

“It’s an emotional thing when you’re talking abut the possibility of closing churches. There are some that are grieving,” Roberge said. “It is very dear to people who have been associated with those particular churches all their lives.”

Roberge said the parish has held public meetings to keep parishioners informed and will continue to do so through the process.

“Our main thrust is the unity of our parish community,” Roberge said. “Secondly, we need to be good stewards of our resources. Having 12 buildings on three campuses puts a strain on our finances.”

Roberge said the timing of having the Rumford property available is perfect.

According to the parish plan, the St. John School has struggled for adequate space and students do not have a gymnasium. The Rumford property is a ready-made school that is available because of consolidation within the Concord School District.

If the plan is approved, the parish would sell the St. Peter’s and Sacred Heart properties then move ahead with the renovation at St. John and create a “Parish Ministry Center,” including an activity center/gymnasium for to accommodate large crowds.

“This is not going to happen overnight,” Roberge said.

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Doug Alden may be reached at dalden@unionleader.com.


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