In a rare Friday evening announcement, the Chicago Archdiocese revealed the next steps of its major ongoing plan to merge parishes.
Three parishes in the city’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood – St. Philomena, Maternity B.V.M. and St. Francis of Assisi – will "become one parish with one pastor," the Archdiocese said in a statement, adding that none of those churches will close.
Maternity B.V.M will serve as the parish school for all three worship sites, according to the Archdiocese, and the Archdiocese’s Priest Placement Board will "work with the community to identify a pastor to lead the new parish."
"We are grateful to the dedicated West Humboldt Park clergy and parishioners who worked together to achieve this outcome," Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a statement.
"They have answered the call to Renew the Church of Chicago with open hearts and hopefulness," he continued.
Cupich announced the major overhaul, called "Renew My Church," in February 2016. With only 240 priests estimated to be available by the year 2030, and 351 parishes across the city, the Archdiocese began to formulate a plan to consolidate.
Explaining the initiative in a May 2016 letter printed in church bulletins, Cupich also cited decreasing Mass attendance, financial problems and buildings in need of repair as some of the challenges facing the Catholic Church that ultimately spurred the overhaul.
Sources said more mergers are expected in the next week. In all, there were five initial parish groupings in Cook and Lake counties to consider future plans.
The Archdiocese said meetings are underway with designated parish leaders as the fate of each parish is determined in the next few months.
The reorganization process is expected to take years, and Chicago priests were told in 2016 that the Archdiocese may close anywhere between 80 to 100 parishes over the next 14 years.
"The Archdiocese will work with all involved to ensure an orderly and smooth transition to the new parish structure," Friday's statement noted.