THE BRONX - Dozens of Catholic churches closed throughout the city Saturday as a number of mergers officially took effect.

The move affects 140 parishes across the city. Officials with the Archdiocese of New York say the mergers have been five years in the making.

Some Catholics from the closed churches say they felt sadness and loss as they joined new congregations.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has apologized to parishioners who say they've been hurt by the plan, but is asking them to give the new system a chance.

Saint Joseph's on Bathgate Avenue is among the churches that closed. Parishioners were sent about a mile away to Saint Simon Stock Church on Valentine Avenue, according to the archdiocese.

Parishioners at Saint Simon Stock say they plan to welcome new church members with open arms.