By Tanya Connor
and Willian T. Clew
The Catholic Free Press
“We’re moving ahead,” said Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann and Our Lady of Loreto parishes.
His remark came after a week in which Bishop McManus announced that the two parishes will be merged into a new parish effective Feb. 1 and the Worcester Historical Commission voted 3-2 against studying Mount Carmel for consideration as a city historic district.
Bishop McManus’ decree says that there will be a single personal parish to “serve the care of souls and spiritual and sacramental needs” of the Italian-American community of Worcester.
The new parish will be called Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and the church building will retain the name Our Lady of Loreto Church, in accord with canon 1218.
Both communities have gathered for worship at Our Lady of Loreto, 37 Massasoit Road, since the closing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Mulberry Street, on May 1, 2016, due to safety concerns from structural issues.
Msgr. Pedone said he is meeting with the liturgy and finance committees of the two parishes and with other parish committees to begin blending their programs. He said the Mount Carmel offices will be moved to Loreto.
He said decisions must be made about what to do with sacred vessels, vestments, statues and other objects at Mount Carmel. He said talks with builders and contractors will begin about what to do with the Mount Carmel property.
No decision has yet been made, he said, about Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. It was closed after architects and structural engineers hired by the parish said it was unsafe. Parishioners were then invited to worship at Our Lady of Loreto Parish.
Work to stabilize the front wall of Mount Carmel Church was started last year. Subsequently, more problems were found. The diocese then asked the city for permission to demolish the structure. It argued that the parish could not afford the expense of repairing the building. But, because the church building was listed in the state’s Cultural Resources Information System, the city Historical Commission denied the request. The demolition request was put on hold until May 19, 2017.
At the request of the Mount Carmel Preservation Society, a group that sought to keep the church building from being demolished, the City Council asked the Historical Commission to consider making the church property at 24-28 Mulberry St. a historic district.
At their Jan. 19 meeting the Worcester Historical Commission voted 3-2 not to initiate a study of the Mount Carmel property.
Voting in favor of the study were Andrew Shveda and Randolph Bloom, commission chairman and vice-chairman, respectively. Voting against the study were the clerk, Robyn Conroy, and members Devon Kurtz and Mark Wamback. Cheryll Holley, an alternate, did not vote.
When Msgr. Pegone announced last weekend that the two parishes will be merged, the news was met with happiness, determination to pray and support.
“I’m glad everybody’s going to be together,” Winifred Tickner, of Our Lady of Loreto, said after Saturday’s Mass. “I think it’s a good fusion and I’ll be praying – praying in the name of Jesus.”
“I think it’s great,” said Marcia DiLeo, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“We are in support of our pastor, who has put up with a lot of indignities that are not Christian,” said her husband, Chester.
“We’re sad but … it takes a lot of pressure off the bishop and Msgr. (Pedone),” Loreto parishioner James Buffone said. “I think it relieves everybody.”
Mount Carmel parishioner Angela Bongovio said she’s been worshipping at Loreto since her church was closed. It’s different, she said; “you’re not seeing the familiar faces.” But she said she’ll keep attending Our Lady of Loreto.
“I’m excited,” Deacon Paul T. Audette, said of the future. He has been serving Our Lady of Loreto as a permanent deacon and pastoral associate.
Msgr. Pedone began his homily Saturday by talking about structural problems of Mount Carmel’s church building and lack of money to fix them.
“I’m not a miracle worker and I can’t change reality,” he said. “Some things in life we just have to accept” and doing so brings peace. “We need to stop this idolatry of buildings and realize we are the Church.”
He spoke of the uniting of the parishes as a time of resurrection, new life, joy and hope, of Christ providing and people sharing in the mission God gave them.
Then Jeffrey Berthiaume, chairman of Mount Carmel’s finance committee, read the bishop’s decree.
“We need to be about the Church’s mission,” Msgr. Pedone said.
Mass times and other things will remain the same, he said. Registered members of both parishes will automatically be registered in the new parish.
“The Mount Carmel campus will continue to run as it has been and scheduled events will continue to take place at Mount Carmel Parish Center,” Msgr. Pedone said in the bulletin.
“I believe that this is an exciting time for us and is full of potential in our embracing and extending the Church’s vital mission and the critical need for evangelization. We have much work to do together!”