The Saint Mary Polish American Society has been provided a shot at saving Saint Mary Church from being sold. The society, which formed after the merger of the four local parishes at Saint Matthew Parish, recently sought to stop the relegation of the church. Once relegated, which means it is no longer a Roman Catholic church, the property can be sold.
The society has received a response to its letter asking for the relegation request to be denied. In the response, Monsignor Daniel Kutys, moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, offers the society the opportunity to raise the funds necessary to maintain the property. As you will read in the letter, the church needs repairs and then there is an ongoing maintenance cost into the future.
Below is the text of the letter from the Monsignor:
Dear Madam and Sirs,
Archbishop Chaput has asked me to respond to your letter to him dated March 24. In my role as Moderator of the Curia, I deal with much of the practical side of Archdiocesan operations which would include issues concerning parish property and buildings.
The aim and intention of the St. Mary Polish American Society is a praiseworthy one, which is “to stimulate Catholicism in Montgomery County” and preserving your Polish cultural heritage. It is my hope that you succeed. Your desire to use St. Mary’s Church and hall for these purposes is understandable. Permission for such use must come from Father Heron since all the buildings of the former St. Mary Parish now belong to St. Matthew Parish.
As you know, Father Heron, at the behest of his Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council, has petitioned the Archbishop to relegate St. Mary Church to profane but not sordid use. The major reasons for this petition has to do with serious repairs needed at the Church. Father Heron told me that St. Mary Church needs a new roof, as well as extensive electrical work. In addition, cosmetic work is needed in the interior to repair damage from leaks. I spoke with Father Heron, and suggested we wait to act on the petition for relegation to give your Society time to demonstrate whether or not you can support the ongoing needs of St. Mary’s Church. St. Matthew’s Parish does not have the resources to maintain the former St. Mary’s buildings, and so if the Church is to remain available for use by your Society, you will need to raise the funds to maintain it. As I said earlier, it is my hope that you will succeed.
Sincerely in Christ,
Reverend Monsignor Daniel J. Kutys
Moderator of the Curia
One interesting thing about the letter is that it does not set a timetable for the society to be successful in raising the funds. It also brings into question the financing of the renovations of the Early Catholic Education Center at Saint Matthew Parish, which was going to be at least partially funded by the sale of the Saint Mary Church property. In his request for the relegation, Father Thomas Heron of Saint Matthew Parish states, “St. Mary’s is situated in a prime development location in Conshohocken. Income from a sale of the entire property, church, rectory and parking lot, would not only enable us to renovate the St. Matthew school building into a thriving Parish Center, it will also allow us to pursue the ability to expand parking facilities, and make necessary improvements in St. Matthew church for our growing parish”.