NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Archdiocese of New York announced Sunday that 112 Catholic parishes in the region are merging into 55.

The reorganization leaves dozens of parishes with two churches. Thirty-one of the merged parishes will only regularly use one church to celebrate Masses and sacraments, essentially closing 31 except for during special occasions. In the other 24 new parishes, Masses and sacraments will continue to be celebrated at both churches.

WEB EXTRA: Merged Parishes Using One Church | Merged Parishes Using Two Churches

The mergers will take effect by Aug. 1, 2015.

“There’s no denying the hurt,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “There’s no denying the sting. There’s no denying the sorrow today.”

The mergers are part of a years-long effort to cut costs and reduce the number of parishes, which archdiocese officials have said is excessive. The archdiocese also has been trying to overcome a lack of priests.

“The place where the were married, the place where their kids made their first holy communion, after Aug. 1, may no longer be,” Dolan told CBS2’s Steve Langford

“We use that word ‘merging’ purposefully,” Dolan said. “We don’t make it up, and it’s not some marketing gimmick. The church’s law uses that. When you think about it, you can’t really close a parish. Parishes are people. Parishes are not buildings.”

The hardest hit areas were Manhattan, where 15 parishes were merged, and Westchester County, where 12 were consolidated. Ten parishes in the Bronx were merged, and seven on Staten Island.

One of the churches set to close is Our Lady of Peace on East 62nd Street in Manhattan. But as 1010 WINS’ Kevin Rincon reported, the church has plenty of parishioners and is financially stable.

To some like Tom, Sunday’s announcement came as a surprise.

“It’s hard to understand,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing. Because this parish is self-sustaining. It’s a vibrant parish. It’s a very active parish.”

In East Harlem, confusion, shock and even some anger was expressed as Mass let out of the Church of the Holy Agony, Langford reported.

“It’s very sad because I have been coming here for 45 years,” said parishioner Iris Hernandez.

“What can we do? This is what the cardinal says, then we have to accept it,” said Rev. Victor Elia.

Elia said he’s already been approached about the property.

“Somebody called me over the phone if I was interested in selling the place. I said what?” said Elia.

The goal was to merge around 14 percent of parishes. Some Catholics said the process of choosing which churches to close has not been well thought out.

“What they believe is just that by shuttering one church that the mass of people will move on to the next church and bring all their money with them,” said Todd, who also attends Our Lady of Peace. “Won’t happen. It’s just not going to work that way.”

The archdiocese hasn’t released any figures in terms of expected savings, but the cardinal acknowledged there will be job cuts.

“The layoffs, please God should not be radical, but there will be some,” Dolan said.

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