5 Catholic parishes in Washington County consolidating

The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Saturday that five parishes in Washington County will merge.

The merger will take effect on Jan. 8 and will involve St. Agnes in Richeyville, Ave Maria in Bentleyville, St. Joseph in Roscoe, St. Oliver Plunkett in Fredericktown, and St. Thomas Aquinas in California.

The five parishes began to plan more than a year ago to address financial problems at St. Agnes and a better deployment of clergy.

On July 3, 2015, Bishop David Zubik appointed a team of two priests to serve the five parishes. Zubik asked the priests to start a planning team that would seek input from all parishioners and make recommendations about future parish life. Over the next year, the planning team met regularly to discuss various options.

In October 2016, the priests and the pastoral and finance councils of all five parishes forwarded a recommendation to Zubik requesting a merger, according to a news release from the diocese.

All parishioners from the five parishes will become members of the news St. Katharine Drexel Parish.

The parish church and offices will be at the current site of Ave Maria, and the other church buildings will be used for occasional worship.