Shrinking attendance numbers have forced the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia to announce it is to close 16 churches in and around the city, the fifth most populous in the United States.
Church officials in the Archdiocese revealed the plans affecting parishes in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks counties included in the archdiocese, merging 29 parishes into 13 and effectively closing 16 church locations.
The decision comes after Archbishop, Charles J. Chaput had reviewed recommendations of an Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee.
The committee's recommendations came after an in-depth examination process with parishioners throughout the archdiocese, which started at the end of 2010.
It aim was to determine whether the parishes possessed the necessary resources to remain "vibrant and sustainable faith communities".
The change will take effect on July 1 and many parishioners will start to attend church services in the newly formed parishes. The old church locations will come under supervision of the new parish, and may be used for weddings, funerals, feast days and traditional and ethnic devotions.
Following the mergers, 219 parishes will remain in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which remain one of the largest Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S.
NBC10 has compiled a complete list of the merging parishes.