St. Rita's Church Closing in July

By Mike Trim

St. Rita's Church Closing in July

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 24, 2006 at 12:12 AM EST

For nearly 60 years, people have worshipped at St. Rita's church in Chenango Forks.

People like 85-year-old Ruth Wiktorek have attended the church since it was built in 1947.

"My kids made their first communion here, I buried my husband from this church. So where am I going to get buried from?" said Wiktorek.

Wiktorek and the other parishoners will have to change churches when St Rita's closes on July 1.

According to Father Robert Ours, it's because of a statewide shortage in priests.

Ours broke the news to his congregation this past weekend.

"We've got people who are hurting. And just like any loss that you ever have in a family, I will try to help them through this," said Ours.

St. Rita's congregation now must choose what new church to go to.

The Diocese of Syracuse is recommending two churches, St. Catherine's on Chenango Street in the Town of Fenton, and St. Christopher's on Castle Creek in Binghamton.

That's not the only change.

The Diocese will pick one priest to oversee both churches.

St. Christopher's Administrator, Father John Putano, thinks there could be more church closures to come.

"Certainly, it's going to be looked at because of changing demographics. And they'll be continuing to look at how they can best serve the needs, the spiritual needs of the people in those areas," said Putano.

As for Father Ours, he doesn't yet know where he'll be serving.

Parishoners from St. Rita's, St. Christopher's and St. Catherine's hope to find out more about the change at a meeting Tuesday night.

Syracuse Diocese Vicar, Father James Lang, will lead that meeting with the parish councils on Tuesday night.

The Diocese hasn't decided what to do with St. Rita's Church after it closes.

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