WEST WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Providence is merging two of its parishes.

WJAR-TV reports that St. Mary Parish and SS John and James Parish of West Warwick will merge on July 1.

The diocese said in a press release Monday that a decline in attendance and key retirements played a role in the decision.

The diocese says St. Mary Parish is serving 150 people, a smaller number than a viable parish should have. St. Mary has also seen a decline in sacramental practices like weddings, baptisms and First Holy Communions, and the current pastor is retiring soon.

St. Mary Parish was built in 1850 and is the oldest Catholic church building in use in the diocese. It will remain open for daily Mass and other liturgical celebrations.

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Information from: WJAR-TV, http://www.turnto10.com

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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