Two Roman Catholic churches in the area will share priests starting in June.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre emphasized that the churches are not merging and would remain independent of each other, maintaining their own schedules, property, budget and more.
The decision for a shared pastorate was set into motion when Msgr. Peter Dooley, pastor of Saint Philip Neri Parish in Northport, announced in January his plan to retire after 10 years at that church and 44 years as a priest in the diocese. The Rev. Stephen Pietrowski, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, will take on duties at St. Philip Neri while continuing to serve the Centerport church. Bishop Richard Henning, vicar for Pastoral Planning for the diocese, recommended the move to Bishop John Barres.
He will appoint a second, full-time priest to assist Pietrowski in the pastoral care of both parishes. Two religious order priests will also provide Sunday assistance in both parishes.
A statement by Henning in a St. Philip Neri newsletter read, “This arrangement, a shared pastorate, has been successfully utilized in other parts of the United States and in other parishes in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Of course, it would be preferable to provide pastors for each of these parishes. This approach is occasioned by a reduced number of priests who are eligible and sufficiently prepared for the important role of pastor.”