Holy Trinity Parish in St. Ann will close at the end of June due to declining numbers of active parishioners and rising debt.
Parishioners were told of the closure Feb. 18. The pastor of All Souls Parish in Overland, Father Jim Gray, welcomed the Holy Trinity parishioners to join his parish, which is a 7-minute, 1.9-mile drive away. Plans for the transition are expected to begin soon.
Holy Trinity has a significant Hispanic community, and a bilingual priest will be assigned to All Souls Parish.
Msgr. Dennis Stehly, vicar general of the archdiocese, told parishioners of the decision at the meeting, which concluded the process begun in June 2019 regarding the possible closure of Holy Trinity Parish. In a visit to Holy Trinity last summer, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson asked the parish for a financial stability plan. Msgr. Stehly said Archbishop Carlson was grateful for the hard work, creativity and generosity that went into the plan. After careful study by financial and legal advisors, the archbishop determined that there was no viable option and elected to close.
Msgr. Stehly cited issues such as a decline in Mass attendance for English-language Masses and declining parish participation. In 2011, on average, 817 people attended English-language Mass on Sundays. By 2019, that average decreased to 274. Between 2009 and 2019, Sunday offertory participation dropped almost 44%, from 652 contributing parish households to 367.
The number of infant baptisms, First Communicants and children in the Parish School of Religion all have declined.
Attendance at the Spanish Mass has remained steady, at 389 in 2019.
Msgr. Stehly said the decision was difficult and painful. But, he said, a stronger and vibrant parish will emerge when parishioners become a part of All Souls “which is in a much better position for the next 20, 30 years.”
Another consideration, he said, is a declining number of archdiocesan priests. Only two priests will be ordained this year.
The Holy Trinity property encompasses two campus sites. Holy Trinity formed in northwest St. Louis County in 2002 with a consolidation of St. Kevin and St. Gregory in St. Ann and St. William in Woodson Terrace. The new Holy Trinity Church was located at the St. Gregory site, 3500 St. Luke Lane in St. Ann. Holy Trinity School, 10901 St. Henry Lane in St. Ann, the former St. Kevin School, closed last year and was used this year for the Parish School of Religion. Both parish properties will be sold, with proceeds used to pay off the parish debt. If any funds remain, they will be forwarded to All Souls Parish. No debt will be assigned to All Souls Parish, which is debt-free.
All Souls is in a better position to meet all parishioners’ needs, Msgr. Stehly said, and he assured the people that “the needs of the Hispanic community, which is very vibrant, will be taken care of pastorally and culturally.”
Holy Trinity has parishioners from more than 40 countries of origin and is home to a Hispanic/Latino Pastoral Ministry and to the St. Louis International African Catholic Community. It has three Masses on weekends, two in English and one in Spanish. A Mass is celebrated the last Sunday of the month in the parish center chapel in Swahili for a Central African immigration population in St. Louis County. The parish bulletin is written in English and Spanish. Father Phil Krill is pastor. A wide range of ministries from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to a telephone prayer chain exist at the parish.
The bulletin for Feb. 16 includes a section on the Sunday offering noting that for the fiscal year that ends in June, the parish has a shortage of $181,214 in its budget.
Parishioners asked questions about the sale of the property, the parish debt, a plan for evangelization, the integration of the parishes and the need to grieve the loss of the parish. Eleven-year-old Ashley Vega tearfully told of her love of the parish, what it has meant to her and her fear of the future without it. After the meeting, her mother, Ana Vega, explained that she, too, is sad because it is where she was married and her three children were baptized. Also, she said, “when I have a problem, the chapel is open for me 24 hours.”
Earlier, Sandy Hezel, who serves as an Annual Catholic Appeal coordinator, acknowledged the decline in parish membership. To applause, Hezel told her fellow parishioners that “the building is not the Church, it is us. We have to come together.”