Parishioners of one Roman Catholic church in Brick Township are hoping their parish family will still be together in 18 months.
Amidst a slew of decisions on merging and linking churches within the Diocese of Trenton, Epiphany Parish, in the township’s Herbertsville section, was largely left in limbo.
“Status of Epiphany to be reviewed no later than July 1, 2018,” was all the diocesan report, Faith in Our Future, said about the church beyond a general instruction to work with other parishes in a local grouping known as a cohort. Rev. Michael A. Santangelo, the parish’s pastor, did not return a call seeking comment. Rayanne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said “there is no further information or instruction on this matter beyond what was released from the Bishop.”
“There is no indication as to why Epiphany Parish was cited for further review, but these are matters that would be sorted out in the implementation phase, which begins within a month or so,” said Bennett.
Parishioners who spoke with Shorebeat said the parish owes no debt to outside sources, but is behind on assessments that are required to be sent to the diocese. Though Bishop David M. O’Connell gave the church an 18-month-long reprieve, parishioners said, there was no indication as to what the parish would be required to do in order to stay afloat as its own entity.
Across the diocese, churches were ordered to enter into a collaborative model with others, be formally linked to other parishes or to be completely merged into other parishes. Merged and linked parishes would share a pastor – merged parishes would maintain joint finances and ministries.
Aside from Epiphany, Brick’s two other Catholic churches – St. Dominic and Visitation – will remain separate and distinct parishes but were told to work together whenever possible.