ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Our Lady of Lourdes Church and Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Elmira have closed due to declining attendance and revenue.
The churches confirmed the closures in a bulletin on their websites and the closings were first reported by Catholic Courier after parishioners were informed on Nov. 13 and 14 of the decree of relegation by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano.
The notice on the parish website was published on Nov. 6 informing of the closures on Nov. 15.
After consultation with the Presbyteral Council on November 3, the Bishop has granted a decree of relegation for Our Lady of Lourdes church and Ss. Peter and Paul church. The decree goes into effect November 15, 2021. Once a church is relegated it is no longer used for Catholic liturgies and can be put up for sale. We will remove all sacred objects as well as other items that may be useful in carrying out the mission of the parish. The decree is posted in the parish office.
According to the Elmira parish 2020-21 financial report, regular collections across all churches were down more than seven percent, totaling more than $100,000. Net operating revenue from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, was -$95,507 with more than $1.6 million in operating expenses.
Ss. Peter and Paul opened in the 1840s and is the oldest parish in Elmira. Our Lady of Lourdes was formed in 1940 and opened its church in 1941.
Catholic Courier reports that the buildings that house Catholic Charities’ Elmira Community Kitchen and Chemung County Habitat for Humanity will remain open.
“It is not an easy time. There certainly is a sadness, but a recognition that we can’t stay in the past, stay as is,” Father Scott Kubinski told the Catholic Courier. “We have to move forward. That necessitates reducing our buildings, including our churches.”
This is a developing story and 18 News will have more information as it becomes available.