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December 11, 2016

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announces closure of four churches, effective January

Four Catholic churches will close in January, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday.

Two of those churches are in Philadelphia, including Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Church and Saint Madeleine Sophie Church in East and West Mount Airy.

Saint Augustine Church in Montgomery County and The original Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Chester County will also close its doors come Jan. 11.

Four of the churches had experienced mergers in recent years but were being used for occasional ceremonies. The decision to close them is partially financial, according to the archdiocese.

Saint Augustine merged with Sacred Heart Parish, another Montgomery County church, back in July 2014. While it was still available for worship ceremonies, the archdiocese was forced to shut the building down completely last year after mold was discovered. 

The two Philadelphia churches also experienced recent mergers. Saint Therese and Saint Madeleine Sophie merged with Holy Cross Parish, another Mount Airy church, in July 2013, keeping Holy Cross' name.

The original Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in 1873 but later replaced in 2001. The original church later closed in 2014 for "safety related reasons," according to the archdiocese.

The four buildings cost hundreds of thousands to maintain while seeing little use after seeing mergers or closures. The building owner of Sacred Heart faced a $300,000 operating deficit during its first fiscal year while operating the Saint Augustine Church. 

Upkeeping Saint Therese in Mount Airy cost $25,000 annually, while needed renovations and other repairs were sure to cost nearly $70,000. Holy Cross also had an operating deficit of $39,000 and was $1.6 million in debt.

Maintenance costs for Saint Madeleine were around $60,000.

Maintenance of the original Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary church would also cost about $120,000.

What will happen to the buildings will later be determined by church councils.