Father Chris Berean is confident he can win over the mainly Italian parishioners from St. Joseph’s Church in Glasco.
“Piece of cake,” said the jovial priest of St. Mary of the Snow church in the village.
The secret? Marinara sauce.
“My mom’s side of the family is Italian and I have two great recipes that will beat anything the parishioners of St. Joe’s can come up with,” said Berean.
The popular priest, who makes model ships in his off-time and has ridden a float in his full Roman Catholic vestments in the annual July 4th parade, has been given the job of serving as the head of the newly merged parishes of St. Mary of the Snow and St. Joseph’s.
Neither church has been closed, but Father John Carney of St. Joseph’s has retired, and the Archdioceses of New York has decided to merge the two Saugerties parishes.
Berean said the merger had nothing to do with finances, “simply a shortage of priests.”
He said similar merging of parishes has been on going in the Dioceses of Albany.
“Until next year, when the merged parish gets a new Federal ID number, we will be financially separate,” the priest said. “But after Sept. 1, 2016 we will be totally joined.”
As part of the merger, all religious education classes are being held at St. Mary of the Snow and both churches will retain their schedule of masses.
There will be one parish council overseeing the operation of both churches.
“I preside over five Masses on Sunday rather than the four I did at St. Mary,” said Berean.
This is something Berean is fairly used to. Before coming to St. Mary, he was a priest in Phoenicia and Woodstock and served two parishes. There he had to travel 17 miles from church to church; here, they’re just three miles apart.
“Things are going smoothly,” he said of the new merger. “I was warmly welcomed at St. Joseph’s, and when I gave my first sermon I received an ovation. They are incredibly nice.”
As chaplain for the Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes, Berean already knew many of St. Joe’s parishioners.
And when he has his sauce cook-off against the Glasco crew, they just might be in for a surprise. “I got this,” Berean said.