WATERTOWN, NY – The Pastoral Council of three of the four Watertown, NY parishes has chosen “The Blessed Sacrament Parish” as the name for its linked parishes. The Council picked the name from four submitted to parishioners earlier this month.
“The Blessed Sacrament is the body and blood of Jesus Christ and is His real presence in the form of bread and wine,” said Rev. John M. Demo, pastor of the Watertown parishes of St. Anthony, St. Patrick and Holy Family. “The name celebrates that important belief among Catholics and proclaims our faith and trust in our savior, Jesus Christ.”
Father Demo had been Pastor at Holy Family in Watertown since June 1, 2019. On July 8, 2020, Bishop Terry R. LaValley announced that Father Demo would become pastor of St. Anthony’s and St. Patrick’s in addition to Holy Family. Father Demo was formally installed by Bishop LaValley as Pastor on August 30, 2020, during a Mass at St. Patrick’s.
“Think of the new name as an umbrella. Each of the churches in The Blessed Sacrament Parish will retain its name and identity. St. Anthony’s Church is one of the worship sites in Blessed Sacrament parish, for example,” Father Demo said.
“Eventually the parishes, now officially linked under one pastor, will be merged. That’s a legal step, a corporate step if you will,” Father Demo said. “Each church will retain its traditions, its unique charisms and its name.”
The merger of the three parishes was first announced in 2016 when Bishop LaValley accepted a proposal from a local study group for a pastoral plan for the parishes. It was part of the diocesan Living Stones initiative.
The Living Stones Planning Committee presented a plan of parish configuration to Bishop LaValley in August of 2016. That plan included suggestions for the linking or merging of certain parishes in the diocese. The proposal to merge the three parishes in Watertown was part of that plan.
Similar mergers and the adoption of a single name have already occurred in
Plattsburgh, Malone and Massena.
“We will begin calling ourselves Blessed Sacrament Parish in the near future, ”
according to the pastor. “Actual merger is still a long way off, but we have already
started acting like a single parish. The Pastoral Council includes elected
representatives from all three churches. We have had a common business office for years. We have combined our Catholic Youth Formation, Christian Initiation process, weekly bulletin and many liturgical services already. We recently moved some of our ministries into the former St. Patrick’s school on Massey Street,” according to Father Demo.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the fourth Watertown parish, will not be part of
the merger. Although a diocesan parish, it is staffed by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, not diocesan priests.