The Rev. Louis Phillips, pastor of the St. Anthony of Padua Parish, is pictured at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Windham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Three local Catholic churches officially become one parish July 1 in an administrative merger several years in the making. The merger’s completion will be celebrated next month with a festival.

St. Hyacinth in Westbrook will serve as headquarters for the new parish Robert Lowell / American Journal

The churches – St. Anne in Gorham, St. Hyacinth in Westbrook and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Windham, – will be united under the banner of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. The parish also has a summer chapel, Our Lady of Sebago, in East Sebago.

“It’s a financial thing, one set of books,” the Rev. Louis Phillips, pastor of St. Anthony parish, said Tuesday about the merger, which coincides with the beginning of the fiscal year.

The canonical parish will also maintain one set of sacramental registers, have one diocesan reporting mechanism and a single annual Catholic Appeal goal, according to Phillips. The changes “save money and more efficiently utilize the time and energy of our parish staff,” he said.

John O’Brien of Windham is business manager for new parish. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The new parish will celebrate July 16-17 with the inaugural St. Anthony Festival at Our Lady, 919 Roosevelt Trail, Windham. A Mass of Thanksgiving will be held at 7 p.m. July 16, and the festival begins at 10 a.m. July 17, with food, crafts, a yard sale, live music and children’s activities. A Mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m. followed by a haddock dinner at 5 p.m.

At the churches themselves, parishioners are unlikely to notice any anything different, although under the merger, St. Hyacinth will officially regain its original name after a period of being called St. Anthony of Padua.

“It’s not going to change a whole lot for us,” said Priscilla Hebert of Westbrook, a St. Hyacinth parishioner and church volunteer. “It’s a wonderful parish.”

In Gorham, Jim Means, a member of St. Anne parishioner, said, “I understand that this will have no impact on parishioners.”

The three churches have worked cohesively over the past six years to bring the merger to fruition. Phillips has been serving the the communities since 2015.

Members of the three churches voted on the parish name, which was then approved by Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. The parish will be headquartered at St. Hyacinth, and each church will retain its existing staff.

Parish business manager John O’Brien of Windham cited hard work over the past five years in bringing the merger to pass.

The three churches already have been sharing expenses and jointly purchasing supplies.

“We’re pretty efficient,” said O’Brien, a parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.

Phillips said the new parish is experiencing growth with an inflow of young adults.

“We have more baptisms than funerals,” he said.

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