Bishop Joseph Galante formally announced today that the parishes of Maris Stella (Avalon) and Saint Paul (Stone Harbor) will unite and the new parish resulting from the consolidation, Saint Brendan the Navigator, will be established August 4, 2010.
The announcement establishing the new parish has been made in a formal decree, which is published in the July 2 edition of the Catholic Star Herald, the diocesan newspaper.
It is the nineteenth decree issued by Bishop Joseph Galante in diocesan-wide reconfiguration of parishes announced two years ago to strengthen parishes and improve pastoral care to the people of the diocese. Another 19 consolidations remain that now are being prepared for by Core Teams and their Priest Conveners.
Reverend Monsignor John T. Frey, Priest Convener for the consolidation, has been named pastor of the new parish for a six year term.
St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, whose boundaries will be those of the existing parishes, will serve about 700 year-round families. The seat of the parish will be Maris Stella Church, Avalon. St. Paul Church in Stone Harbor also will be retained as a worship site to serve the parish.
The consolidation seeks to reverse downward trends in religious practice by strengthening parishes, improving outreach, and providing a range of ministries that will better serve the needs of the people. The consolidation also addresses a decline in the number of diocesan priests available for ministry, as well as demographic and population change in the diocese.
The Maris Stella and St. Paul churches are within three miles of each other on a 7.5 mile barrier island. The year-round population of the island is about 3,000, but it swells more than tenfold in the summer season.
St. Paul was first established as a parish in 1913, though it continued as a mission parish of St. Ann, Wildwood until 1936. Avalon parishioners over time were served by Our Lady Star of the Sea, Cape May, St. Ann, Wildwood, and St. Paul, Stone Harbor, respectively, until it was established as a parish in 1962.