By MARNIE McALLISTER
As the sanctuary was stripped on Holy Thursday in preparation for Good Friday, St. John Paul II Church parishioners worshipped at their Hikes Lane campus for the last time.
The former St. Barnabas Church on Hikes Lane was one of two worship sites of St. John Paul II parish when it opened in 2015. The parish was formed by the merger of St. Barnabas and St. Pius X Church on Goldsmith Lane.
All parish liturgies will now be celebrated on the Goldsmith Lane campus, the former St. Pius site.
For now, the parish offices and outreach ministries of the church — including the Francis Center, community garden plots and the Dare to Care Kids Café — will continue to be located on the Hikes Lane campus.
Religious education classes also have been moved to the Goldsmith Lane campus. Classes will meet in the parish school.
Eventually, all parish operations will be concentrated on the Goldsmith campus, said Father William P. Burks, pastor.
He noted that the original plan after the merger was to use both campuses, with the Hikes campus as the primary worship site.
“We wanted to be respectful of both campuses and grow into the use of both campuses. Both had great assets,” he said. “As time went on, especially in the last year or so, it became obvious — we were not seeing the kind of growth in this part of town that we were hoping. Just the general upkeep of both plants became something we had to truly and deeply evaluate.”
The parish held town hall meetings, prayed and commissioned a comprehensive review by an architect to help determine which campus best met the parish’s needs, he said.
“We got the results around Christmastime. We could see ourselves moving all of our ministries to one campus — Goldsmith Lane.”
Father Burks said decisions about how to accommodate the parish offices and the remaining ministries still located on Hikes Lane will be made after the parish’s new pastor, Father Peter Do, arrives in June.
Father Burks gave thanks for the parish’s transition team, which he said planned the last liturgy for Holy Thursday.
“We thought that was a wonderfully meaningful way to do it,” he added. “It was a time to celebrate and praise God for everything St. Barnabas had been. Then have all of us together under one roof at Easter.”