Diocese restructuring plan would close several churches in Genesee County

Photos by Tom Rivers: The St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Batavia, built from Medina Sandstone in 1906, would close as part of a restructuring plan announced on Wednesday by the Diocese of Buffalo.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2024 at 1:58 pm

St. Mary’s at 20 Ellicott St. is made of rusticated Medina Sandstone and is the oldest Catholic church building in use in Batavia.

BATAVIA – The Buffalo Diocese on Wednesday announced more recommendations to close churches in the region, including in Elba, Batavia and Bergen.

The news followed the Diocese plan announced on Monday to close St. Mark’s in Kendall and St. Stephen’s in Middleport.

The Diocese of Buffalo proposals are recommended changes and are not final, said Joe Martone, Diocese spokesman. Parish families have the opportunity to present alternative proposals by July 15, Martone said.

The Genesee plan announced on Wednesday includes closing St. Mary’s in Batavia, Our Lady of Fatima in Elba, St. Brigid in Bergen, St. Maximilian Kolbe of Corfu and East Pembroke, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Darien and Bennington, and both locations of Mary Immaculate in East Bethany.

The Diocese will keep St. Joseph’s open on East Main Street in Batavia, Ascension parish on Sumner Street in Batavia, as well as St. Padre Pio Parish on Maple Avenue in Oakfield and Our Lady of Mercy on Lake Street in Le Roy.

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 and Genesee.

“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 W. Fisher said on May 28. “This plan resulted from the lessons learned as we brought parishes together in the parish family model and determined rather quickly that scaling back the number of parishes would best allow us to use our limited resources to help reenergize a spiritual renewal in the diocese.”