Parishioners move forward with great faith

Final Mass celebrated at St. Maria Goretti Parish


PAWTUCKET — With heavy and grateful hearts holding onto decades of memories, close to 200 faithful filled the pews of St. Maria Goretti, for the last time.


Due to significant safety concerns as well as a significant parish debt, and a major decline in Mass attendance and sacramental practice, the diocese has declared that St. Maria Goretti Church will close.

Founded on June 1, 1953, St. Maria Goretti has been the spiritual setting to countless baptisms, first communions, graduations, marriages and funerals for loved ones. Father Timothy Reilly, who has been serving as parish administrator, shared that the Catholic faith has been lived out so well and so vividly at St. Maria Goretti.

“How do you sum up 63 years in one morning?” said Father Reilly during the final Mass. “After today the doors of the church building will be closed, but tomorrow morning, that job and mission will still be intact. You must bring that same faith wherever the Lord calls you to worship.”

During Sunday’s Mass, the parish choir, led by Ralph Bruno, lifted spirits with song, many choir members wiping away tears as they sang in harmony.

Father Reilly thanked the choir, the many parish leaders for their wisdom and input, and for the daily Mass crowd who have all served as a wonderful source of strength for the parish. He also expressed his gratitude to the entire parish community for their kindness and patience which was instrumental throughout the whole process.

“You truly are a people of faith,” he said. “The church may be closed today, but you and your families are called to live the next step. The Lord is calling us to love him, to trust him, and let ourselves be guided by him always.”

Father Cornelius Lynch, who has served as pastor emeritus, received a standing ovation from parishioners in gratitude for his service throughout the years. Father Reilly said that he has been an example of humility, peace and joy to the faithful.

“Your great example of discipleship is going to sanctify a lot of people,” said Father Reilly.

Along with other parishioners, Vic Goff, who has attended St. Maria Goretti Church since 1960, handed out special prayer cards and pieces of old pews as blessed mementos.

“Everyone treasures something different about this church,” he said.

Goff added that following the Mass, parishioners would attend a reception at Lancelotta’s Restaurant where a table of memories would display photos showcasing the history of the parish throughout the years. From there, many would attend the wake of former pastor Father Normand J. Godin, who died on November 17. Father Godin served at St. Maria Goretti Parish from 2014-2016. “It’s a lot to digest,” said Goff.

Together as a faith community, parishioners processed out the doors and assembled in front of the church for a final blessing. Many friends and family members embraced one another, others thanked Father Lynch and Father Reilly for their spiritual support and leadership.

“As we walk through those doors, into the unknown, the Lord is always there to guide and direct us,” Father Reilly shared. “Ultimately, through this bittersweet experience, through the laughter and through the tears, God is going to remind us that this is bigger than us. God is always in control and he already knows where you and your family are going to land. The work will continue because you are part of something great, and if you lean on Jesus all will be well.”

A message from the Diocese of Providence said that every effort will be made to continue the ongoing spiritual and pastoral care of parishioners who are encouraged to attend Mass at nearby churches in Pawtucket, Providence and North Providence. For the immediate future, all sacramental records will remain at the Saint Maria Goretti parish office, 165 Power Road, Pawtucket.

In that message, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin thanked God that the church has served several generations of Catholics and has helped them along the path of salvation.

“We hope and pray that in the strong and unshakeable faith of the parishioners, the legacy of the parish will live on,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to all who have served and supported the parish over the years.”



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here