Selling of Catholic church properties is a sign of the times
The latest to hit the market are Sacred Heart and St. Peter’s in Concord, where Christ the King Parish is consolidating three facilities into one.
“There are changes in society. We’re not exempt from those,” said Pat McGee, secretary of development and communication for the Diocese of Manchester. “The church has to adapt to the world in which we live today.”
While hopeful, Planchet is also realistic that the church her husband’s grandfather and great-grandfather helped found is not in the future plans of Christ the King now that Sacred Heart and St. Peter churches are officially on the market.
The merger has been in the works for years and remains in progress after Bishop Peter Libasci’s decision last summer that the original plan was too expensive. The former plan included purchasing a former school building from the Concord School District and moving St. John’s Regional School to that property, clearing up office space for the parish.
“There’s no plan that will be 100 percent perfect that everybody will be happy with,” said the Rev. Rich Roberge, pastor of Christ the King.
Other factors leading to consolidation include fewer available priests and a population shift, mostly to communities in southern New Hampshire. And of the 12 Catholic churches built in New Hampshire since 2000, 11 are in the southern region, said diocese spokesman Tom Bebbington. North Conway’s Our Lady of the Mountains Church was the only new addition in the North Country.
“We’re here to assist the parishes,” McGee said. “As you can imagine, selling a church is an unusual event.”
Carol Beauchemin, who was been a member at St. John for 14 years, empathises with parishioners that will have to leave behind the other churches as part of the merger. But she also sees the practicality of consolidation and the savings ahead for the parish when it is no longer paying to maintain all of the different properties.
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