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Two Catholic churches in Wilkes-Barre closing

Only a handful of Roman Catholic churches remain in Wilkes-Barre and two of them are set to close this month.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Parishioners gather for a reading of the rosary; one of the few left before St. Andres Bassette church in Wilkes-Barre will close its doors. 

"We knew it was inevitable because the writing has been on the walls for some time we just didn't know what time that would be," said David Alusick, St. Andre Bassette.

"It wasn't a parish, it wasn't a community, it's a family, we care for each other and we worried about each other," said Marylin Tosh, St. Andre Bassette.

The church on North Main Street will have its last mass on June 19th. The Diocese of Scranton told parishioners in a letter that building conditions, financial obligations, along with low mass attendance were all factors in the decision to close.

Members will have the option to join Saints Peter and Paul Church in Plains or relocate elsewhere.

"They all realize that the time has come for us to move forward to another worship site and we'll never lose the family and togetherness that we have here at saint Andre Bassette," said Alusick.

"Even after the church closes we have plans with the committee to follow up on all of our elderly and homebound to make sure they are cared for and they are satisfied with the parish they are in," said Tosh.

The diocese is also closing Saint Dominic's on Austin Avenue in Wilkes-Barre again due to a steady decrease in mass attendance. The final mass is scheduled for next Saturday, June 11th. 

Parishioners can then go to Saints Peter and Pail in Plains. Members do plan to continue serving the community by keeping the clothing ministry open.

"We have seen a great increase in the number of individuals that are in need of clothing and not just in our immediate community but we get calls from social workers fire victims and different organizations who need our services," said Laura Raudloff, who oversees clothing ministry.

Staff with the clothing ministry tell us they plan to move the into the St. Dominic's church building and also utilize the space for a food pantry.

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