Catholic Diocese details restructuring plan for Orleans, Niagara

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 June 2024 at 10:19 pm

Kendall, Middleport churches would close in recommendation not yet finalized

Photo by Tom Rivers: St. Stephen’s Catholic Church would be closed as part of a restructuring plan announced tonight by the Diocese of Buffalo with the church merging with Holy Trinity in Medina. St. Mark’s in Kendall would merge with St. Mary’s in Holley.

The Diocese of Buffalo tonight announced its restructuring plan for churches in Orleans and Niagara counties with St. Mark’s in Kendall to close and merge with St. Mary’s in Holley, and St. Stephen’s in Middleport to close and merge with Holy Trinity in Medina.

These are recommended changes and not final, said Joe Martone, Diocese spokesman.

The plan for parishes within the Niagara/Orleans Vicariate was presented this evening to pastors and parish family officers at the Diocese of Buffalo’s Renewal meeting at Immaculate Conception in Ransomville.

Parish families have the opportunity to present alternative proposals by July 15, Martone said.

The 8-county Diocese of Buffalo announced on May 28 it will work to reduce the number of parishes by 34 percent in the eight-county region, which includes Orleans.

“The Diocese of Buffalo is facing multiple challenges including a significant priest shortage, declining Mass attendance, aging congregations and ongoing financial pressures brought about by our Chapter 11 filing,” Bishop Michael Fisher said on May 28.

Some of the grim data from the Diocese includes a 49 percent decline in registered households across the 8-county region, 59 percent of parishes with a negative net operating balance, 59 percent of parishes experiencing a steady decline in baptisms, 24 percent decrease in marriages from 2020 to 2023 in the Diocese, and the average age for priests is 76, with 63 percent of the priests between the ages of 65 and 70.

Orleans County already lost a Catholic church last year when St. Joseph’s in Lyndonville was badly damaged in a Feb. 28 fire. The Diocese opted not to rebuild the church and had it torn down in November.

Diocese recommendations for Niagara/Orleans Vicariate

(Changes in italics)

Family #10

All Saints, Lockport – merge with St. John – close St. Joseph campus

Our Lady of the Rosary worship site in Wilson to close

St. John the Baptist, Lockport

Immaculate Conception, Ransomville – move to Family #34

St. Patrick, Barker – move to Family #10

St. Brendan on the Lake, Newfane

Family #11

St. Stephen, Middleport to merge with Holy Trinity in Medina

St. Mark in Kendall to merge with St. Mary’s in Holley

St. Mary, Holley

Holy Family, Albion

Holy Trinity, Medina

Family #34

St. Raphael, Niagara Falls – merge with St. Peter, Lewiston

St. Peter, Lewiston

Accept Immaculate Conception, Ransomville, into Family #34

Family #35

Divine Mercy, Niagara Falls – merge with St. Mary of the Cataract

St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls – merge with St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara Falls

St. Mary of the Cataract, Niagara Falls

Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph, Niagara Falls – Our Lady of Mount Carmel site to close