SCRANTON — The beginning of the new liturgical year in the Catholic Church brought about new beginnings for six parishes in Scranton’s south and west sides.

Following a thorough period of discussion and consultation through the Vision 2030 Pastoral Planning Process, the parish communities of Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul of the Cross in South Scranton were consolidated on Nov. 26. The parish consolidations of Saint Ann Basilica and Saints Peter & Paul, West Scranton; and Saint Patrick and Saint Lucy, West Scranton, became official on Dec. 3.

Beginning in September, the four West Scranton parishes entered into two separate linkages, each shepherded by one pastor. The two South Scranton parishes linked in 2021.

Based on the Vision 2030 Process of examination of demographic changes in the communities, Mass attendance, sacramental participation, financial obligations and the availability of clergy, recommendations were proposed to create three parishes out of the previous six independent entities.

The consolidation of the two large South Scranton parishes has resulted in a new identity for the worship sites of Nativity of Our Lord Church, located at 633 Orchard St., and Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Church, 1217 Prospect Ave., as the former parishes are now united under the new name of Saint Teresa of Calcutta Parish.

“United as one community of faith there is so much we can do together,” Father Jonathan Kuhar, pastor of the new parish under the patronage of the renowned saint of modern times, proclaimed in the inaugural parish bulletin on the Feast of Christ the King. “Let us begin this work by imagining new ways of being community to each other and creative ways of doing the work of discipleship in the world.”

Sunday Mass times at the parish churches are as follows: Nativity of Our Lord, 9:30 and 11 a.m.; Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. (Spanish).

Sacred Hearts Church serves as the site for the weekday morning Masses, Tuesday thru Friday, at 8 a.m., and a Saturday Vigil Mass at 4 p.m. Nativity Church offers a Spanish-language liturgy on Thursday at 7 p.m., and their weekend Vigil Mass on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Father Kuhar implored the prayerful intercession of the new parish’s patroness and the blessed patrons of the two former parishes — Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul of the Cross.

Encouraging his new, united flock to act with urgency in carrying out the Lord’s work, the pastor shared the inspiring words of Mother Teresa, known as the “Saint of the Gutters” who visited the Diocese of Scranton on several occasions:

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.”

Saint Ann Basilica Parish now encompasses the nearby former Saints Peter & Paul Parish and its longtime worship site at 1309 West Locust St. in West Scranton.

As pastor of Saint Ann’s, Father Jim Paisley has guided the two parishes since they were linked in September. In assuming the pastoral reins, he becomes the first Scranton Diocesan priest to lead the parish after more than a century of pastorates filled by clergy from the Passionist Order of priests.

“The people of both parishes have been very understanding of the need for a consolidation,” Father Paisley said. “Although no one wants to see this kind of thing happen to their church, parishioners know that certain changes need to take place in order to secure a strong and vibrant (Catholic) future in West Scranton.”

He added that, since September, faithful from both Saint Ann’s and Saints Peter & Paul’s have collaborated and meshed well to work together on various events and endeavors, minister at the altar, serve in the choir, and attend Masses.

“They are forming a new parish family identity with each passing day,” Father Paisley noted. “We are blessed.”

The Basilica Church of Saint Ann, 1250 Saint Ann St., West Scranton, offers Sunday Masses at 8:30 & 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and Monday Masses at 8 a.m., noon, 3:30 & 6 p.m. Weekday liturgies are also celebrated Tuesday thru Friday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday Masses are at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (Sunday Vigil).

Saints Peter & Paul Church hosts a Sunday morning Mass at 11 a.m., and offers a Eucharistic liturgy on Monday at 9 a.m.

On a personal note, the new pastor acknowledged how members from the combined parishes have welcomed him with “open arms and loving hearts.”

“Both faith communities are kind and compassionate,” Father Paisley expressed, “and I am most grateful for their willingness to travel this journey of faith together.”

He further noted that the Passionist Community of Saint Ann’s Monastery and Basilica has been equally welcoming and supportive. “I am honored to share ministry of Saint Ann’s and Saints Peter and Paul’s with such a devoted Order of men.”

Under the spiritual leadership of their longtime pastor, Father Richard Fox, the consolidation of the Parish of Saint Patrick with Saint Lucy Parish adds to Saint Patrick’s a devout family of faithful and a third parish worship site.

“It’s been a smooth transition,” Father Fox remarked, concerning the other Catholic parish merger in Scranton’s West Side. He added that support staff and those involved in music ministry from both parishes have successfully combined their time and talents.

Saint Patrick Parish now includes Saint Lucy Church, 949 Scranton St., West Scranton, along with the IHM Chapel, 1605 Oram St., which the parish has overseen for numerous years.

Sunday Masses are celebrated at 7, 8:30 & 11 a.m. in Saint Patrick Church, 1403 Jackson St., which also celebrates 8 a.m. morning Masses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and a Saturday Vigil liturgy at 4 p.m.

Saint Lucy Church now hosts a Sunday morning Mass at 9 a.m.; the IHM Chapel offers 8 a.m. weekday Masses on Tuesday and Thursday, and a Vigil liturgy on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

“We are blessed to bring together two very strong and proud parish communities,” Father Fox said of the new parish family. “Both churches, which are most venerable and rich in history, have been the sacred homes for a very long time to devout Catholics grounded in their faith.”