CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Five more Roman Catholic churches in the Camden Diocese will soon be consolidated into new parishes that will serve about 5,500 families.

The latest changes, which take effect Sept. 29, involve Gloucester County churches.

Bishop Joseph Galante says the St. Clare of Assisi Parish will be formed by merging St. John the Evangelist in Paulsboro, St. Joseph in Swedesboro and St. Michael in Gibbstown. It will serve 3,760 families and be based at St. Michael Church in Gibbstown, but St. Joseph will remain as a worship site.

In the other merger, Nativity Church in Franklinville and St. Catherine of Siena in Clayton will become the St. Michael the Archangel Parish. It will be based at Nativity, with St. Catherine of Siena remaining as worship site, and serve 1,740 families.

The changes are the latest in a series of mergers in a diocesan-wide reconfiguration meant to strengthen parishes and improve pastoral care to members. Galante has issued 23 merger decrees since June 2009, and several have been met with resistance from some churchgoers.

In making their decisions, church officials have considered several issues, including population and demographic trends, the number of diocesan priests available for ministry, Mass attendance and trends in religious practice.
The Camden diocese includes Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Camden counties.

Galante was installed as Bishop of Camden in 2004.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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