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Vatican decree orders local church to be an oratory

Catholic Diocese of Buffalo photo
St. Mary Church in Lockport

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – An appeal by a local Catholic church to remain open as a parish has ended. St. Mary Church was to close, and the parish to merger into All Saints Parish back in 2008.

But parishioners appealed to the Bishop's decree to the Vatican. While their appeal was pending, St. Mary's remained open as an independent parish.

The Vatican has issued a final decree to designate St. Mary Church in Lockport as an oratory.

Kevin Keenan is director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. He said because the Vatican is reluctant to approve church closures, Bishop Edward Kmiec revised his original closure plan for St. Mary's.

"Bishop Kmiec saw that new trend from the Holy See. He amended the original decree. So instead of closing, the church it has now been designated as an oratory, which will allow it to be continued to be used as a worship site for occasional celebrations," said Keenan.

Under the decree, St. Mary's will merge into All Saints Parish and the church will become an oratory of All Saints on September first.

An oratory is a worship site that may be used for marriages, funerals and other religious occasions, but no regular Masses are celebrated.

All Saints Parish was formed in the merging of St. Anthony, St. Joseph and St. Patrick Parishes in Lockport in 2008.