HOGANSBURG Due to financial difficulties and low attendance, St. Patricks Church most likely will close within the year.
The Rev. Martin E. Cline, pastor, has been discussing the future of the church for the past year with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, the Parish Council and members of the parish.
No decision to close has been made, Father Cline said, but its leaning more towards a definite. But theres always that last-second chance.
Father Cline, who also is pastor of St. Josephs Church in Bombay and St. Marys Church in Fort Covington, started to seriously look at the issue when he was assigned to the churches two years ago.
Right away, I noticed the financial issues and the lack of numbers, he said.
Father Cline previously served in Malone and was aware of the financial decline of St. Patricks.
Its not what I expected to be doing on my first assignment, he said. I had it in my mind that I could be the one to turn it around, but after a few months, I realized that I would be the one to have to make this decision.
The church faces increasing costs, such as for heating, and decreasing income. St. Patricks, which was built more than a century ago, is also in need of major repair work and upkeep.
In addition to this is the declining support shown by the community, due to the fact that many people no longer practice their faith, said Father Cline. St. Patricks sees an average weekly attendance of 30 to 35 families.
It is sad to hear so many people say they are Catholic, or any other Christian religion, and then arrive for mass and see the small crowds present, he wrote in a letter.
Population loss in general also is a factor, he said.
In Massena alone the loss of General Motors, the decrease of employees at Reynolds and Alcoa, and the decreased use of the Seaway have had a huge effect on everything, he wrote.
Father Cline said that details still have to be worked out on the sale of the property, as well as scheduling the best time to officially close the church. He said that he will be meeting with the Parish Council again on Tuesday.