On Sunday, a special Mass and prayers were held marking the merger of SS. Cyril and Methodius and St. James churches with the new name, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.
The merger of the Warren parishes is the final one in the Diocese of Youngstown parish reconfiguration plan, which began in 2008 and was promulgated by Bishop George Murry in May of 2010.
Diocese officials said 17 mergers have taken place under the plan.
The merger of SS. Cyril and Methodius and St. James churches, now known as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, was celebrated Sunday with a Mass. Deacon Robert Simmerly, left, and Pastor James Walker lead the closing prayers for the Mass.
The six-county diocese now includes 101 churches merged into 87 parishes.
The Rev. James Walker, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, said under the plan, St. James, 2532 Burton St., and SS. Cyril and Methodius, 185 Laird Ave., NE, will remain open as worship sites.
''We will continue to evaluate our progress and do whatever we need to do to proclaim the good news. The vast majority of people have accepted this. We had far fewer road bumps than I thought we would,'' Walker said.
SS. Cyril and Methodius and St. Joseph parish members had sent recommendations to the diocese about their merger.
Walker said the diocese chose the new name for the church with parish members submitting suggestions.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She established the first Catholic school in the nation, in Emmitsburg, Md., where she founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.
The Rev. Jeffrey Stealey, associate pastor of the merged parish, said there will now be one Mass on Saturday and one on Sunday at SS. Cyril and Methodius and one Mass on Saturday and two Masses on Sunday at St. James with he and Walker rotating services.
Paul Layshock, a parish member at St. James who served on the transitional pastoral council that worked on the merger, said there would be two locations people can attend for Masses, which pleased congregation members.
''It takes all of us,'' Stealey said. ''It is not about the buildings. It is about we as the people of the church. We have a lot of great folks who help make the church what it is, There has been a lot of work that went into this and lot more work to come.''
Annette Orslene of Warren, who was on the committee at SS. Cyril and Methodius and who is a 52-year member of the church, said the transition for the two churches went well.
''It worked out well. It takes people's big hearts and spirits to gather those who have loyalty to both parishes to come together. Today was very emotional for many,'' she said.
Orslene said the people are who ''truly make the parish.''
Barb Reynolds of Warren and her daughter Maureen Reynolds of Niles were providing tours of SS. Cyril and Methodius on Sunday.
Barb Reynolds , who served on the pastoral transitional council, said the people working together has been wonderful.
''It was a wonderful celebration of our new start together,'' Maureen Reynolds said.
The two parishes had separate banners with a new banner created by Bonnie Toth of Warren.
Toth, a retired teacher, said she did research on different images of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and presented her sketches and ideas to the parish council.
''It was an honor for me to be able to use my skills and create this,'' Toth said.
Rev. Nicholas Shori, director of parish plan implementation, said that year three of the plan will have three phases. In the first, parishes will evaluate the mergers and collaborations to assess how well they have progressed and identify areas of need.
Shori said phase two consists of discussions on a deanery.
In phase three, the Office of Parish Plan Implementation will assist parishes in continuing and/or starting evangelizations.
The plan resulted from demographic shifts, fewer priests and changing attitudes. It is intended to save money.
Murry had said younger generations tend not to be as committed to the church.