Father Tuan Nguyen holds morning mass at Immaculate Conception Church on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Father Tuan Nguyen holds morning mass at Immaculate Conception Church on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

13 Snohomish County parishes face mergers in Seattle Archdiocese plan

Parishes in Everett, Tulalip, Lake Stevens and elsewhere in Snohomish County will combine with their nearest neighbors over three years.

EVERETT — Rev. Jay DeFolco of Holy Cross, in the Lochsloy area between Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, is no stranger to bringing communities together.

Holy Cross was designated as its own Catholic parish in 2004. It had previously been a mission church and a satellite of St. Michael in Snohomish.

DeFolco said his parish has about 1,000 families. Now, St. Michael, Holy Cross and St. Mary of the Valley in Monroe will combine into one parish.

“It’s been coming for a long time,” DeFolco said. “And I feel good about the process. I understand the needs, the shortage of priests is growing and it’s getting more challenging to be able to meet all of the needs of our community.”

It’s part of a plan announced over the weekend to consolidate parishes within the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Starting in July, 13 parishes in Snohomish County will combine into six, a transition that’s expected to take about three years.

On Monday, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced the creation of new “Parish Families,” which is the consolidation of two or more parishes under the leadership of one pastor.

Here’s how some Snohomish County parishes will be combined:

• Our Lady of Hope (Everett) will merge with St. Anne’s (Tulalip);

• St. Mary Magdalen (Everett) with St. John (Mukilteo);

• St. Brendan (Bothell) with St. Teresa of Calcutta (Woodinville);

• Holy Cross (Lake Stevens and Granite Falls) with St. Michael (Snohomish) and St. Mary of the Valley (Monroe);

• St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Bothell) with St. Pius X (Mountlake Terrace); and

• Holy Rosary (Edmonds) with St. Thomas More (Lynnwood).

“We took into consideration many factors including size, location, language needs, the presence of a school, key ministries and much more,” Archbishop of Seattle Paul Etienne wrote in a letter to parishioners. “We spent hours in deep discussions and prayer while listening to the Holy Spirit and discerning our path for the future.”

The list of parish families came after a year of consultation with parishioners, priests, deacons, school staff, the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council and an oversight council, the archdiocese said in a press release.

“Parish families were developed based on parishes’ size, geography, cultural and ethnic makeup, financial health, school presence and other considerations,” the press release said.

There are no immediate plans to close any of the churches, DeFolco said. Each church currently has its own clergy.

“I don’t really expect any of our churches to be closing in our region and I’m actually excited about the possibility of sharing resources,” DeFolco said. “You know, where individual parishes may not have the resources, but combined parishes would have the greater resources to do more.”

One example? Perhaps pooling resources for the St. Michael K-8 Catholic School in Snohomish.

“It’s a school that is growing and bursting at the seams and needs expansion of more rooms, more classrooms,” DeFolco said. “There’s a master plan, but it’s challenging to do everything in one parish. But maybe we have three churches working together, maybe we can expand this school and make it a true regional school. I see the possibilities here.”

Churches in Everett are no stranger to mergers, either. In 2022, Our Lady of Perpetual Help merged with Immaculate Conception to create Our Lady of Hope.

The Archdiocese of Seattle oversees parishes between Canada and Oregon to the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean. The mergers and consolidations of parishes are part of the Archdiocese’s evaluation of its resources and needs as mass attendance dropped 15.5% between 1999 and 2018.

Western Washington’s population grew 28.4% over that time, while Catholic marriages declined almost 46% and infant baptisms by 21.5%.

“My hope,” Etienne wrote in the letter, “is that parish families will benefit from the shared gifts of people, time, finances, talents and more.”

Jordan Hansen: 425-339-3046; jordan.hansen@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jordyhansen.

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