Local News

Friars, seeing numbers shrink, plan to pull clergy from Raleigh Catholic church

Posted 7:14 p.m. yesterday
Updated 8:19 p.m. yesterday

The Rev. Fabian Marquez prepares his sermon he will deliver following the El Paso mass shooting, at El Buen Pastor Mission on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. After a week of sharing El Paso’s grief, Marquez sought a theme for his homily that would help a fearful and anguished community find comfort. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)

— The pastor of Raleigh's St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church told parishioners he was surprised by the decision Friday of his order to pull Franciscan friars from the parish.

In his email to parishioners, Fr. Steve Patti said the order, Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, had been discussing for years a gradual withdrawal from some of their ministries, a response to "the aging of friars and declining vocations to religious life."

According to Patti, Holy Name Province friars serve in 30 locations along the East Coast, including Raleigh's St. Francis of Assisi. The final decision to withdraw from nine of those locations came Friday, after what Patti described as "wide input from friars throughout Holy Name Province, and from our lay partners in ministry."

Still, Patti wrote in his email, when he got the call that St. Francis was among the locations to be cut, it came as a surprise. St. Francis is one of the larger Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Raleigh, which includes 97 parishes and missions across 54 eastern counties of North Carolina.

Patti promised his parishioners more detail on Sunday at Mass and said the transition would take months to complete.

A spokesman for the diocese told WRAL News that it was not yet clear how the church would staff St. Francis after the friars withdraw.

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