The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has announced on Sunday that Youngstown Bishop, The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar has accepted the recommendation by Rev. Maciej Mankowski of Massillon to merge three parishes.

Rev. Mankowski is the pastor of Massillon's St. Barbara Parish, St. Joseph Parish and St. Mary Parish. He was appointed pastor for all three parishes in July of 2022. The merger of the parishes will be effective January 1, 2023.

In accordance with Church law, the decision was made after having heard the advice of the Diocese's Presbyteral council, which was unanimously in favor of the merger.

The new parish will include all three church buildings, which will all maintain their original names, but the parish itself will be known as the "Devine Mercy Parish."

Bishop Bonnar chose this name from among three names put forth by parishioners. According to a news release from the Diocese, this name "evokes the importance that Pop St. John Paul II and Pope Francis have placed on God's mercy and love, expressed in liturgy, service and through popular 'Divine Mercy' devotions."

Bishop Bonnar expressed his gratitude for how the parishioners worked together to prepare for the merger in a letter, highlighting a meeting held with representatives from the three parishes in June.

The Bishop writes that ever since Father Mankowski was appointed to the three parishes, parish communities have moved merging efforts forward.

"I am excited about the ways in which the Catholic community of Massillon is embracing a regionalized approach to Catholic life, with a shared mass schedule, one school, new unfolding possibilities for creative programming and most especially a sense of being one family in Christ," Bishop Bonnar wrote.

The Diocese of Youngstown is continuing to develop a regional plan for its six-county diocese, with criteria including the number of parishioners and worshipers, finances, effective use of buildings, number of priests and use of lay ecclesial ministries.