All Saints Parish, Woonsocket, merges into neighboring St. Joseph parish; All Saints church building to close permanently


PROVIDENCE — Due to a steady decline in the number of parishioners and sacramental activity resulting in a lack of parish community life; in response to the request of the pastor/administrator, trustees, and finance councils of both parishes; and after consulting with the diocesan College of Consultors, and the Council of Priests, Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence, has approved the proposals to merge All Saints Parish into St. Joseph Parish, both in Woonsocket, and to close permanently the All Saints church building. Both will become effective February 7, 2022. Parishioners were informed of the decision at Masses this weekend.
“I commend Father Simas and the parishioners of All Saints Parish and St. Joseph Parish for walking together and working together to bring this merger to completion,” said Bishop Tobin. “I pray that the parishioners will see this change not as a set-back, but rather as a new chapter in their journey of faith, a new beginning filled with wonderful possibilities for the future.”
Rev. Ryan J. Simas, who is pastor of St. Joseph and administrator of All Saints, added, “The merging of a parish and the permanent closure of a church building is always a sad and painful occasion and never the desire of any bishop or priest, but it is my hope and prayer that the coming together of these two communities will create a stronger and more faithful Catholic Church in Woonsocket, allowing us to focus more intently on our Divine Commission to know and love the Living God while proclaiming the Gospel for all to hear. Having come to know the good people of All Saints Parish as their Administrator over the past year and a half, I know they undoubtedly have a deep and inspiring faith that transcends their past struggles. What brings us together is not a building, but the Eucharist and other Sacraments received therein.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, All Saints, located at 323 Rathbun St., was confronting a diminishing demographic shift in population with a resulting decline in sacramental practice. Since the 2018 retirement of its most recent pastor, All Saints Parish has shared its only assigned priest with a neighboring parish. All Saints also experienced a declining population, having 748 parishioners in 2019 to about 134 now. The decline in the sacramental life is evident as there are no Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, or weddings scheduled at All Saints. Additionally, decades of deferred maintenance on the All Saints building have left it with more than $1 million in capital needs. Normal parish operating costs have continued to escalate while weekly collection income has declined unsustainably.
St. Joseph Parish will assume the territory and parishioners of All Saints Parish. All sacramental records for All Saints will be transferred, stored and maintained at the St. Joseph Parish office, 1200 Mendon Road, Woonsocket.
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