The Rev. John F. Meyers, the pastor at St. Martin of Tours who recently announced he would close the convent, has been reassigned to serve as a parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Ambler, Montgomery County. The move is effective Jan. 30.
Parochial vicars assist a pastor.
The Rev. Michael S. Olivere has been named parochial administrator pro tem at St. Martin’s. Olivere will continue as pastor at St. Timothy, in Lower Mayfair.
At weekend Masses, St. Martin’s distributed a letter from Meyers on the convent issue and his reassignment.
Meyers said that he has been in contact with the clergy office since last March about his worsening diabetes and other personal health issues. He requested a less stressful assignment.
Meyers, who has been at St. Martin’s for five years, said he had hoped to remain until retirement.
As for the convent, he explained that the pastoral council began looking for space for meetings and activities last fall. There is no room in the school or rectory.
The pastor spoke with the General Superior of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary before deciding to close the convent. He noted that there are only eight nuns in a convent designed for more than 20.
The pastoral and finance councils will consider new uses for the convent this spring.
“Because of these circumstances I would very much like to leave quietly with no public acknowledgment,” he wrote in his letter, adding that prayers for him are more than enough of a thank you.
Hundreds of St. Martin of Tours alumni and current and former parishioners took to Facebook to express sadness and decry the decision by Meyers.
The IHM nuns have lived in the convent, at Loretto Avenue and Sanger Street in Oxford Circle, since 1925.
Sister Ellen Giardino, the principal, will remain as principal. Sister Agnes will remain on staff in various roles. They will live in a convent to be determined.
The six other nuns, including five who work in the school, will be assigned to other ministries.
Since 2013, St. Martin’s has been managed by Independence Mission Schools.
The parish no longer oversees the school, but does own the convent.
The school had no role in the decision to close the convent, and its long-term lease is not affected by its closure.
The Sisters will serve out the school year. They will be honored on April 22 at the school’s second annual Together Towards Tomorrow Gala, taking place at Leonardo Helicopter (formerly AgustaWestland). ••