St. Mark parish leaders expect business as usual after merger
As the merger of two Catholic churches in southern Butler County nears, the Rev. Charles Bober says the change will challenge Saint Kilian and Holy Sepulcher to “work together as neighbors.”
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced in May that Holy Sepulcher in Middlesex Township and St. Kilian in Cranberry Township will merge their operations to create St. Mark the Evangelist Parish on July 1.
While both churches will continue to exist as before under their prior names, their respective parishes will cease to exist and will merge into one.
"I think people realize that this is not something unique to these two parishes, but something that is occurring in all the other parishes,“ Bober said. ”I think people realize that this is in response to trying to do better ministry, to make better use of clergy personnel, and also to try to challenge us to work together as neighbors.”
Saint Kilian and Holy Sepulcher are two of many churches in the region that will consolidate operations in order to, as the parish wrote in a public statement, “help parishes mobilize their resources to prioritize mission over maintenance” and “help Catholics have a deeper relationship with Jesus.”
Bober requested the merger after extensive consultation with parishioners, according to Bishop David Zubik, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
“Merging these parishes will better facilitate the ability of the assigned clergy to work together, building upon one another’s individual talents in order to better serve the people of God entrusted to their pastoral care,” the diocese said in a statement
The process began in February, when the churches presented two petitions requesting the merger to Zubik.
With the St. Mark merger coming this July, the diocese will be downsized to 61 parishes — a steep decrease from the 152 parishes it had as late as mid-2020.
The parish will be served by Bober, who will be the parish’s pastor, and the Rev. David C. Schmidt, the Rev. Dennis M. Buranosky, the Rev. Robert F. Guay, deacon Ralph W. Bachner and deacon Douglas K. Nelson.
Two of the priests — Guay and Buranosky — are retired and listed as “in residence.” The newest addition to the lineup is Schmidt, who joins St. Mark on its first day as a merged parish. Schmidt is moving from Regina Coeli Parish in Pittsburgh.
Aside from the addition of Schmidt, Bober says parishioners should expect business as usual after July 1.
The churches have been working in concert for years, sharing offices, a website, and a church bulletin, among other assets. While the two churches have separate phone numbers, one could call the phone number for Holy Sepulcher and get the mass schedule for Saint Kilian, and vice versa.
“We’ve done a lot of merging and changing during those five years. This is the culmination of a process,” Bober said. “So I don’t think they’re going to notice much change at all.”
Last fall, both churches invited all of their parishioners to submit suggestions for names. The churches received 303, 12 of which made the final cut.
By the end of January, that list was whittled further to five, with Saint Mark eventually beating out Saint Veronica and three others.