OSWEGO — The timetable for the review of the consolidation of Oswego’s four Catholic churches has been delayed until the end of March.
The initial decision in May 2019 by then-Bishop of Syracuse Robert Cunningham to combine the four congregations into a single parish was put on hold by current Bishop Douglas Lucia in October, citing a need to look closer at the controversial process.
Lucia set a 90-day moratorium period on consolidation efforts during a forum event at St. Joseph’s church and Monday marked that original deadline.
Officials from the Diocese of Syracuse said in light of developments during Lucia’s recent visit to Rome, the review period would be extended.
Diocese officials told The Palladium-Times that in Lucia’s recent ad limina, a meeting held between a Bishop and the Pope every five years to report on the status of his or her Parish, Lucia was “given until the end of March to complete his review” by the pontiff.
“[Lucia] would like to take as much time as needed to make a prudent decision,” said Diocese spokesperson Danielle Cummings.
The consolidation decision and process riled many local Catholics, among them St. Mary’s parishioner and former Oswego Mayor John Sullivan. Sullivan led efforts to change church leaders’ minds about the selection of St. Paul’s as the physical site of the new parish.
The consolidation review is ongoing, and so is Sullivan’s advocacy for his home church.
“Bottom line, (St. Mary’s) is thriving,” Sullivan told The Palladium-Times Wednesday. “I look at it as a wakeup call and it’s shown by attendance going up. Christmas mass this year was packed.”
Sullivan said in conversations with Lucia, the members of St. Mary’s outlined a specific argument as to why it made sense for their church to remain open. Most prominent among those reasons was, according to Sullivan, that 70 percent of Oswego’s active catholic population lives west of the Oswego River and that St. Mary’s is in a geographically desirable location.
In addition to outlying the case to keep St. Mary’s open, Sullivan is looking for ways to attract more young people to the church.
“If you look most Sundays, there’s a lot of grey hair,” Sullivan said.
Diocese officials said they would provide more information on the content and results of the consolidation review when complete.