WOONSOCKET — With hopes of forming a new, stronger Catholic community, the Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin has approved a request by the pastor and leadership of three Woonsocket parishes to merge. The three parishes, Holy Family, Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs and Sacred Heart, will become the new Holy Trinity Parish, effective July 1, 2018. Rev. Daniel J. Sweet, who has served at these parishes since 2017, will lead the new parish. Parishioners of the three parishes were informed at Masses this past weekend.
“The merger of the three parishes in Woonsocket marks a hopeful new beginning. I pray that it will inspire the parishioners to come together in a unified family of faith to strengthen the life of the Church. I commend Father Sweet and the members of the new parish for their generosity and patience in the consultative process that has led to this decision,” said Bishop Tobin.
Last year, the three parishes held meetings to discuss the declining population, the decline in sacramental practice and the increasing financial challenges, as well as the sharing of one priest among the three parishes. The parishes decided to consolidate staff and resources and to combine their Faith Formation Programs.
In addition, a joint Parish Pastoral Council was created to recommend further affiliations among the three parishes. After consultations with the diocese, a draft proposal was presented in which the three parishes would merge and form a new successor parish with a new name. Bishop Tobin gave his approval after consultation with diocesan staff, the Diocesan Consultors and the Council of Priests.
As of July 1, the central location for the new Holy Trinity Parish will be at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Church. Holy Family Church will remain open for liturgical celebrations only and Sacred Heart Church will close permanently. The sacramental records for all three parishes will be maintained at Holy Trinity Rectory, 1409 Park Avenue, Woonsocket
From 2013-2016, sacramental practice at the three parishes declined as follows; Holy Family Parish, no weddings, three received First Communion and seven baptism; Sacred Heart Parish, five weddings, 28 received First Communion, 24 baptisms; Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Parish, four weddings, 62 baptisms and 86 children received First Communion. Recent Mass attendance at Holy Family and Sacred Heart averaged 100 individuals.
Sacred Heart Parish was established in 1895 to serve the Catholic faithful in northern Woonsocket. Holy Family Parish was established in 1902, to serve the French-Canadian Catholic population the Woonsocket area. Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Parish was established in 1953 to serve the Catholic faithful in the southern part of Woonsocket.