Overbrook: Saint Donato Fights Archdiocese to Remain Open

Maria Bellocchio showed the signatures on the petition.

Parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes walked to mass
Parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes walked to mass

Over the past year, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has combined parishes in various Philadelphia communities. Earlier this month, the archdiocese announced Saint Donato’s Catholic Church, in Overbrook, would merge with another Catholic church in the community, Our Lady of Lourdes.

These mergers are part of the Pastoral Planning Initiative by the archdiocese. The initiative was created to bring about a stronger and more vibrant Catholic community.

“It’s a process that is about looking at the resources in the areas and what goals they will bring about for the church,” Kenneth Gavin, associate director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said.

“By looking at certain factors, like attendance and sacramental services, we can figure out where some communities need help,” said Gavin. “We’re looking at the broad picture, what does everyone need to help create a vibrant presence for the church.”

Since the announcement, Saint Donato’s Catholic Church has fought to keep their parish alive.

Maria Bellocchio showed the signatures on the petition.
Maria Bellocchio showed the signatures on the petition.

The church has been open since 1910 and has become a staple to many families in the Overbrook community. It is a church generations of families have been attending. These families said they will fight to find an alternative before they let the archdiocese close their church.

Catherine Bellocchio, secretary for Saint Donato, said she thinks there are other alternatives before shutting down the church.

“They (the archdiocese) cannot just look at the numbers and feel that is what drives a church” said Bellocchio. “We have a thriving community, one that is willing to fight for Father Buccafurni and for Saint Donato.”

One way parishioners are fighting back is through signing petitions. After the announcement of the merge, parishioners passed a petition around during mass to gather signatures in hopes to change the Archdiocese’s mind.

“We received over 500 signatures and we sent them to the archdiocese,” said Bellocchio. “This week the signatures are being sent to the Vatican and the Pope.”

Mike signed the petition that was sent to the Pope.

While the idea of a merger can be scary to some parishioners, it might comfort some to know the building itself, Saint Donato’s church, will remain open.

“Saint Donato Church is going to remain open and maintained as a church,” said Kenneth. “It will be available for weddings, funerals, baptisms and an occasional Sunday mass.”

The future of Saint Donato remains uncertain for now. If the church does indeed merge with Our Lady of Lourdes, then the last Mass will be Sunday, Feb. 24.


  1. Please come together for Fr. Buccafurni and show your support to a great Pastor….We will not give up on Our Church or Pastor…We need to make the Archdiocese see they are making a mistake for Our Children in School and the Senior Citizens Of Our Parish…

  2. Only 25 people attend mass here regularly…. And the Pastor is so OLD and FRAIL the he can barely lift his leg high enough to step up on the alter…. They better retire him quick before he takes a spill and gets hurt…. All the people who have been attending mass in the last few weeks are FRAUDS who will stop going to mass in a couple weeks…. So they SHOULD close this church and EVERY OTHER CHURCH in the archdiocese!!!

  3. C.R. You only show your ignorance and lack of Christianity our pastor may be old but a more caring, living and devoted man you will not find. Did you throw your parents our when they became old and fragile ? Probably so.
    St. Donato us a family. It’s a community of Italan decent that have stuck together, helped each other and remain devoted to their Church. Yes they might nt be here every week as they do need to support the parishes of whose school their children attend but every event that as been held in regard to the parish has lays had amazing attendance. Perhaps in the end you are atheist!

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