LEWISTON — Two of Lewiston-Auburn's five Catholic churches will be closed by the end of October.
On Oct. 13, St. Joseph Church at 253 Main St. will celebrate its final Mass with Bishop Richard Malone. St. Patrick Church at 220 Bates St. will follow two weeks later on Oct. 27.
The Prince of Peace Parish, which operates each of the city's Catholic churches, announced the dates last week.
The announcement follows a closure recommendation in August by Monsignor Marc Caron, who leads the Prince of Peace Parish and oversees all of Lewiston's churches.
"Even after doing this, we project a $100,000 budget deficit for the fiscal year," Caron said in August. The previous fiscal year ended on June 30 and had a deficit of about $240,000.
"It's a tremendous loss at multiple levels," he said. "Even if they were open, we couldn't afford to use them."
The closure doesn't come as a surprise. In March, the two churches were targeted by a task force of local leaders. In the spring and early summer, Caron led a series of talks looking for alternatives.
He found none. In the past 10 years, the number of Catholics in the city has fallen by about one-third, from 21,000 in 1999 to about 14,000 today, he said.
Before either St. Joseph's or St. Patrick's closes, the church will hold events for regular attendees. The parish has not released the schedule for St. Patrick's. However, several events are scheduled for St. Joseph's.
• Homecoming Masses for former and current parishioners are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3, at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 4, at 10:15 a.m. Those involved in lay ministries will be recognized at these Masses.
• A church barbecue will be held Sunday, Oct. 4, in the Trinity Catholic Junior High School parking lot. It will be free.
• The sacrament of anointing of the sick will be offered during the 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Oct. 10, and at the 10:15 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Oct. 11. A reception in the chapel will follow each Mass.
• A closing Mass and banquet at St. Joseph Church is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. Bishop Richard J. Malone will preside. Following the Mass, a banquet will be held at Carriage House Plus on Lisbon Street. Tickets are $20 each and may be obtained at the parish office at 16 St. Croix Street until Oct 1.
For more information on any of the events, call Pat Gavula at the parish office, 777-1200.