ST. LOUIS — Families consoled each other as they exited St. John Paul II church in Affton for the last time on Sunday.
Last month, the Archdiocese began to implement its "All Things New" plan -- which calls to consolidate 178 parishes into 134.
The Catholic church on 4980 Heege Road in St. Louis County was one of them.
“The building was built in 1915 over 100 years of devoted Catholics and we're so sad that this parish would close,” said Steve Goedeker who had attended there all his life.
Goedeker said that he hoped the reason for the closure was not based on economics because the church was in a “less affluent” area.
"There's a lot of contraction happening in our communities in a global way in our small communities and here in Archdiocese and contraction kind of hurts,” said Katie Garner, another parishioner.
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski's decree cites that the downsizing is because of the decrease in households and eucharist attendance on Sundays.
“24/7, 365, there is always an adorer. There is always an adorer before the blessed sacrament. These are not your just Christmas and Easter Catholics,” Goedker said.
Parishioners were also met by a group praying the rosary across the street, which was in solidarity for the last service as a separate entity.
“The parish has an appeal to Rome and is one of six parishes that did not receive suspension notice on their decree and five that did receive suspensions have not been received by the Nuncio which is the US ambassador for Rome,” Jason Bolte, Save Rome of the West founder.
Members noted they had reached out to the archbishop to meet about possible solutions since July but had not heard back.
The parishioners from the church will be transferred to Seven Holy Founders minutes away in Affton but also marked safety as a concern at that location.
“They [parishioners] have to go around the back of a building. They have to go in very dark parking lot then once they get in, they have to walk three flights of stairs down to that chapel,” Goedeker said.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of St. Louis sent the following response to parishioners concerns about the decision and safety:
"The question regarding where to hold adoration is a pastoral decision, and the archdiocese trusts our pastors to make these decisions. Due to safety concerns, Msgr. Jeff Knight feels it is best to move adoration to the chapel at Seven Holy Founders, a five-minute drive from St. John Paul II. The perpetual adoration chapel at Seven Holy Founders is accessible through the first-floor entrance and available all day and all night."
There are many other adoration chapels in the Archdiocese of St. Louis including: St. Peter (Kirkwood), Assumption (Mattese), St. Ambrose, St. Mary Magdalen (Brentwood), St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Clement of Rome (Des Peres), Incarnate Word (Chesterfield), Holy Spirit (Maryland Heights), St. Alban (Wildwood), St. Rose of Lima (De Soto), Sacred Heart (Crystal City), Holy Infant (Ballwin), Our Lady of Lourdes (Washington), St. Patrick (Wentzville), Sacred Heart (Troy), St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (St. Charles), St. Vincent de Paul (Perryville) and St. Paul (St. Paul).