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Committee shares plan with public to shut down four Auburn churches, another in Weedsport as restructuring debated

After the first public meeting on the matter on Monday- the Catholic Diocese of Rochester has shed a little more light on the closure warnings that came late- last week.

Around 150 parishioners showed up to the meeting, where a committee presented its plan for closure of four-out-of-nine Catholic churches in the northern Cayuga County area.

The plan itself received mixed reviews, according to The Citizen, who noted that some voiced support for the plan- understanding its necessity- while others said that the church should find another way.

Among those proposed to be shut down included St. Alphonsus on 85 E. Genesee St. in Auburn; St. Francis of Assisi on 299 Clark St. in Auburn; Holy Family on 85 North St. in Auburn; and St. Joseph on 8831 S. Seneca St. in Weedsport.

Five others would remain open, including two in Auburn, two in Owasco, and a fifth in Cato.

A survey is being conducted in which church officials will use feedback- along with the feedback collected in two public sessions. The second public session is set to take place tonight.

Bishop Salvatore Matano will have final say on which churches are closed. Even though the committee plan presented this week has multiple churches shutting down- church officials noted that the advisory plan is not final.

Church officials said it was all fueled by a general decline is use of the churches. A handout from the committee to those in attendance showed that at the nine churches in question faith formation was down 59%, confirmations declined by 55%, and baptisms declined by 40%.

That doesn’t include declines likely made worse by the pandemic in 2020. Still some in attendance wanted to see the church keep all sites open.

“Doing nothing would simply hasten the financial stress on our parishes and our families as we continue to struggle to maintain these nine worship sites and related buildings,” Member Janet Zane said.