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Changing times at St. Casimir - South Philly Review

A decline in parishioners has caused a Pennsport church 
to merge with another Lithuanian site.

By Joseph Myers
                   Posted Jul. 14, 2011

Members of St. Casimir Parish received Holy Communion from Rev. Peter Burkauskas, background, left, at Sunday Mass, one of seven weekly chances for the community to display its faith. A new identity for the 118-year-old parish began two weeks ago with an announcement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Photo by Joseph Myers

The canonical Gospels all tell of The Feeding of the 5000, the miracle through which Jesus Christ multiplied five barley loaves and two fish to feed a famished crowd. The members of St. Casimir Parish, 324 Wharton St., likely wish their savior would similarly increase them to strengthen their spiritual home’s identity. They will need to alter their petitions, as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the merger of their 118-year-old church with Fairmount’s St. Andrew Parish, July 1.

The combination makes the Pennsport location an alternate worship site for St. Andrew’s 761 registrants. The oldest among three Philadelphia churches serving Lithuanians, St. Casimir will depend on the youngest for assistance.

“Head of both parishes since 1998, he has seen the South Philadelphia spot’s registered figures drop slightly and St. Andrew’s rise significantly. From 2000 to ’10, St. Casimir’s parishioner count fell from 195 to 182, a 7 percent decline, while St. Andrew’s experienced a 59 percent bump by going from 479 to 761 worshipers.

“The decision can’t come as any big shock,” Burkauskas said. “You can see the numbers are dwindling.”

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