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Change in local Catholic churches

St. Anthony’s Church in Yulan is one of two Catholic churches in Sullivan County that are being turned over to the New York Archdiocese after more than 100 years of being cared for by the Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
February 26, 2014

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — For 110 years in one case and 120 in another, Franciscan friars from the Holy Name Province (HNP) have served as pastors for the St. Anthony of Padua Church in Yulan and St. Mary’s in Obernburg. That arrangement will be coming to an end sometime this summer because the order doesn’t have as many friars as it did in years past.

According to a press release, “At its peak in 1965, HNP had more than 1,000 friars, compared to its current 300 friars whose average age is 68.”

According to Jocelyn Thomas, communications director for HNP, the change means that future pastors will come from the New York Archdiocese, which will also assume responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the buildings.

Farewell Masses will be arranged to celebrate the friars’ years of service to both parishes.

From the press release

The announcement was made at parish Masses the weekend of February 23. The Rev. Joseph Juracek, OFM, pastor of St. Mary’s, and the Rev. Thomas Jones, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony’s, each read a letter from provincial minister Fr. John O’Connor, OFM, and provincial vicar Fr. Dominic Monti, OFM, that described the “painful decision” to withdraw from the communities.

More than 100 friars have served in western Sullivan County since the late 1800s. Founded in 1852, St. Mary’s Parish was the pioneer Catholic church in the region. The archdiocese asked the Franciscans to assume care of the parish 40 years later. In 1904, friars serving at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, recognized the need to organize a separate church for the people of Yulan, and so St. Anthony Parish was founded in 1907.

Holy Name Province will work in tandem with the pastors, parish councils and the archdiocese to assure a smooth transition.