KINGSTON/MARKESAN -- Plans are being finalized for the merger of St. Mary Parish in Kingston and St. Joseph Parish in Markesan with the new name of Holy Family Parish.
Holy Family was a name suggested by parishioners to Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who made the final decision. “That was a favorite,” noted Fr. John Hedrick, pastor. “Obviously it’s because of St. Mary and St. Joseph coming together.”
The two parishes are located eight miles apart in Green Lake County. They are located in the same public school district.
The two parishes have been been doing things together for years. They had already formed one pastoral council and are in the process of forming one finance council with the merger being completed.
Markesan used to have two Masses each weekend, but since June of 2007 there has been just one Mass on Sundays at 10:15 a.m. There is one Mass at Kingston on Saturdays at 4 p.m.
“People go back and forth between the two churches for Masses,” said Father Hedrick. Both churches will continue to be used for weddings and funerals, he said, in addition to the weekend Masses.
There are about 130 Catholic families in Markesan and 50 Catholic families in Kingston.
The two parishes have had religious education programs together for many years, observed Father Hedrick. Roland Salter is the religious education coordinator.
“The people are very accepting of the merger,” he said. “Their main concern was that we continue to use both churches.”
Father Hedrick said the merger process was more complicated than he thought it would be, but he received a lot of help from Grant Emmel and Vicky Skilondz from the diocesan Office of Planning. Going through the necessary legal and financial processes helped organize the parishes’ records and bookkeeping, he said.
The merger was approved by the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Madison and Bishop Morlino. Father Hedrick said there will be a celebration with Bishop Morlino some time this year to acknowledge the merger.