The Archdiocese of Philadelphia plans to close three NE Philly churches

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will close three Catholic churches in the Northeast: Mater Dolorosa and St. Joachim, in Frankford, and St. Leo, in Tacony.

The churches received notice in emails on Wednesday. The archdiocese will not formally make the announcements until Sunday.

Mater Dolorosa and St. Joachim, along with Harrowgate’s St. Joan of Arc, will close, with parishioners directed to Juniata’s Holy Innocents.

St. Leo will close and merge into Our Lady of Consolation, located on Princeton Avenue in Tacony.

Our Lady of Consolation, East Mayfair’s St. Bernard and Wissinoming’s, St. Bartholomew — all of which seemed to be in jeopardy of closing — will remain open.

Mater Dolorosa was founded in 1911. St. Joachim, founded in 1845, is the oldest Catholic parish in the Northeast. St. Leo was founded in 1884.

St. Leo will not go down without a fight.

The Rev. Joseph Farrell, the pastor, alerted members of the finance and pastoral councils of the archdiocese’s decision.

Parish leaders will hold a news conference and rally after Sunday’s 11:30 a.m. Mass. They are expected to argue that St. Leo has no debt and, therefore, should not close.

The archdiocese has been monitoring the Mass attendance, marriages, baptisms and financial status at churches for some time. Parishioners have been bracing for final decisions.

The Rev. John J. Large, pastor at Mater Dolorosa and St. Joan of Arc, plans to officially announce the closings during his homilies on Saturday and Sunday.

“At least with my parishes, it won’t be a surprise,” he said.

In 2003, the archdiocese closed Mater Dolorosa, St. Joachim and St. Joan of Arc elementary schools, with children sent to Holy Innocents. The stated reason was declining enrollment.

St. Leo Elementary School closed in 2005, and students were invited to attend any school they wished. Planet Abacus, a charter school, uses the school building.

On Friday, pastors will gather at the archdiocese’s Center City headquarters to learn whether they and their parochial vicars will receive new assignments. ••