NEWARK - Nearly 30 parishioners held a protest outside the Newark Archdiocese Sunday to try to save their historic church from closing.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Pine Street in Montclair was founded 109 years ago, and some parishioners say their families have been celebrating Mass at the church for generations.
Officials say the church is scheduled to close due to declining membership numbers.
Archdiocese spokesperson Jim Goodness says the plan for Mount Carmel is to merge with Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair and rename it Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Goodness says the plan has been in the works for more than a decade.
"The people here, we are fighters," he says. "We love our church, talk about tradition. We are a financially sound church. They closed a church that was financially sound. It doesn't make sense."
The merger is scheduled for Sept. 4, when Mother Teresa will be canonized a saint.
An archdiocese spokesperson says the plan has already been in the works for more than a decade.
Members say despite overall low membership in Catholic churches, their church is solvent and should remain open.
They say they sent a petition that has been delivered directly to the doorman of the Pope that will be handed to the Pope himself.
A spokesperson for the Newark Archdiocese tells News 12 the church could be closed by Labor Day, but there are currently no plans to sell the property.