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Merger announcement of Catholic parishes expected Jan. 24

Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich is expected to give new direction to parishioners in the South Suburbs on Jan. 24 on how their six Catholic parishes will be merged into one or two new parishes.

Three-member teams from each of the parishes — St. Anne in Hazel Crest, St. Joseph in Homewood, Infant Jesus of Prague in Flossmoor, St. Emeric in Country Club Hills, St. Lawrence O’Toole in Matteson and St. Irenaeus in Park Forest — have been meeting for months as a feedback and discernment team to study and offer advice to the cardinal on how the Archdiocese of Chicago can best serve Catholics in the area.

Local parishioners serving on the team are Carlo Gozzi, Funmi Akiwowo and Generand Algenio of Infant Jesus of Prague, and Carol Gsell, Tom Brabec and Bill O’Brien of St. Joseph.

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Brabec said the proposal to Cardinal Cupich is for St. Ann and St. Joseph to merge at the Homewood site, and St. Emeric and Infant Jesus of Prague to merge at the Flossmoor site. No suggestion was given on how St. Lawrence O’Toole and St. Irenaeus will merge.

Brabec said the proposal from the committee is advisory. The final decision will be made by the cardinal and his team. The newly organized parish will be given a new name and a new pastor. Changes in staffing and use of buildings will be effective July 1 with the new archdiocesan fiscal year.

The move toward consolidation is part of the archdiocese’s Renew My Church program. According to the archdiocese, the Renew My Church process will transform the archdiocese over the next several years by working with groupings of parishes to determine how they will achieve the goal of having vibrant, life-giving faith communities accessible to all Catholics.

“Many of today’s challenges require looking and working beyond our individual parish,” according to the Renew My Church website. “The only way to make sustainable change in our communities is to work together in new and bold ways. Groupings are called to greater collaboration to take on these challenges with bold vision.”

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