Merging Vibrant Faith Communities

St Athanasius and St Agnes

Reading, MA — As many people of Reading may know, St. Agnes and St. Athanasius Churches are merging into one parish to better serve the needs of the community. In layman’s terms, building strength through unity provides the opportunity for one new parish to better create and sustain a vibrant faith-based community. 

Over the past ten years, many parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston have undergone successful church mergers and moved into a single parish with their two-three worship sites (churches). The Reading Catholic Community (RCC) is grateful for the guidance and support of the Archdiocesan Office Evangelization, which focuses on the Mission of the Church, which is Evangelization, bringing people back to Christ.

In Reading, the general reaction from the majority of parishioners has been very positive. One humorous comment from a parishioner was: “It’s been four years of collaboration – it’s time to get married”! Another parishioner compared the parishes combining to a vibrant family “where children, food, and home help us in our faith’s journey”. With this support, the next step toward merger was to seek Archdiocesan approval from the Priests’ Senate and Cardinal O’Malley, which was given on December 15, 2022. The merger will become effective on March 1, 2023, when St. Agnes and St. Athanasius Parishes will officially become CHRIST THE KING PARISH.

Christ the King Parish, will emerge as an energized Christian community centered on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, a parish focused on the rebuilding the Church, by making, and growing disciples, not just consumers of religion.

Jesus has shown us the way, “It’s now up to us”, in the words of Pastor Steve Rock, “to put Jesus at the center so that everything else radiates around Him – from the sacraments to other church-related activities to the daily work we all do. Building up His Kingdom by coming together, embracing, and sharing the New Evangelization is what it’s all about.” Focusing on the possibilities works best when people work together to achieve their goals. Praying together that God’s work will be done opens us up to His will. As St. Peter said, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. And now we believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God.” 

Christians all over the world place their hope and trust in the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, known as the Paschal Mystery, that exists in all facets of life – new life and wonderful possibilities can arise from difficult and challenging situations. This week, as the two parishes of St. Agnes and St. Athanasius merge into one parish, we believe and hope that the Holy Spirit will guide us to build a new and vibrant parish.

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