The possibility was announced earlier this week, when the Vatican outlined its guidelines for celebrating his feast in October.
Now, a new Rhode Island parish may be the first to claim the late pontiff for its patron — using the title “Blessed” — providing it gets permission from Rome.
Two more Roman Catholic parishes will merge in July. The Diocese of Providence has confirmed that St. Leo the Great and St. Cecilia Parishes will merge on July 1 and take on the name Blessed Pope John Paul II.
The Rev. Michael Sisco, most recently the Catholic chaplain at Roger Williams University in Bristol while living at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in the same town, is to become the new pastor.
Father Sisco, who has also served at St. Francis Xavier parish in East Providence and St. Agatha and Precious Blood churches in Woonsocket, will replace the Rev. Pierre Plante, the current pastor at St. Cecilia, and the Rev. Giacomo Capoverdi, the administrator at St. Leo’s.
The merger comes after more than a year of consultations among the parishioners, according to the Diocese of Providence, and after final approval was given by Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin. The diocese said the merger will not affect the operation of St. Cecilia School.
A “changing neighborhood” that has reduced the area’s Catholic population, along with financial problems, helped to drive the merger, according to a letter from the two outgoing clergy.