Rising oil prices have hit home in Susquehanna County. Two Roman Catholic churches in Forest City will close for the winter months because officials fear it will cost too much to heat them.
The three churches sit literally within a block of one another, Sacred Heart, St. Agnes. and St. Joseph’s. Soon Sacred Heart and St. Agnes will close for the winter. For a few months at least, all the parishioners in Forest City will have to make their way to St. Joseph’s.
"It’s sad. It doesn’t matter whose church is closing, even if it’s temporarily for the winter. You feel bad," said Marge Spyhalski of Forest City.
Closing the two parishes for the winter will save roughly $20,000.
The closures for the winter are just the latest in a streamlining of parishes in Forest City, which has been going on for about a year. Already the three churches share pastors, and split the weekly Mass schedule.
"There were, at one time, seven Catholic churches in Forest City," said Teresa Miller. Now there are just three.
St. Joseph’s was chosen to remain open for the winter because it can use either gas or oil heat. Both St. Agnes and Sacred Heart run solely on oil.
Many parishioners have gone to one church or the other for their entire lives but they understand the need to save.
"Now with the heating problems, the oil. I know at my own home how much more it’s going to be," added Spyhalski.
"It doesn’t matter to me. I go to any church I want to go. Church is church," added Miller. [Source]
With all of the contentious church closing stories it’s nice to read one with a positive quote at the end. Though there is something really sad about the necessity of closing churches during Advent and Christmas.