Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jan
  • 5

Local year in review

Posted By January 5, 2012 | 1:42 pm | Featured Article #3

Compiled by William T. Clew

In January, Emmanuel Communications, Inc., of Worcester announced it bought radio station WNEB, 1230 AM, in Worcester, reportedly for $500,000, and would make it a part of the EWTN Radio network.
Mark Lauring of Emmanuel Communications said he and his partners, Raymond Lauring and Michael Grimes, had been discussing plans to bring a Catholic radio station to Worcester for two or three years. The station is one of about 150 EWTN affiliates in the United States.

In February, results of the “Sharing Our Blessings” campaign, which ended Dec. 31, 2010, were announced. The campaign was conducted by 100 parishes in the Worcester Diocese. Erik Kiernan, senior director of CCS, the organization that conducted the campaign, said average offertory collections increased by 31 percent compared to collections in 2009. The goal of the campaign was to increase collections by 25 percent.
Also in February, St. Catherine of Sweden Church and rectory were sold for $585,000 to Iglesia Cristiana Bet-El, Inc., an Hispanic Christian group. St. Catherine and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes were suppressed Nov. 23, 2009, and formed a new parish, Sacred Heart-St. Catherine of Sweden, which uses Sacred Heart Church, rectory and gymnasium at 600 Cambridge St.

In March, the diocese suspended the permanent diaconate program to assess whether the diocese will need more deacons in the future and whether funding and assignments will be available for them.
Bishop McManus also ordered that Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Southbridge be closed. Sacred Heart Parish had  been merged in May 2010 with Notre Dame Parish to form Notre Dame of the Sacred Heart Parish. The church was used for one Mass a weekend after the merger. The bishop said extensive repairs needed to allow continued use of the building would be too expensive for the parish to afford. The  final Mass in Sacred Heart Church was celebrated May 20. Parishioners processed with the Blessed Sacrament to Notre Dame Church.
Also in March, the diocesan Office for Youth Ministry announced it would move on Sept. 1 from the Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center in Whitinsville to the Chancery at 49 Elm St., Worcester.

In April, the St. Louis School boys junior varsity basketball team of Webster won the New England CYO Basketball championship in the 5th-6th grade division. The Cavaliers beat teams from Boston, Hartford, defending champion Bridgeport and Providence on the way to the title.
Also in April, Father Bernard E. Gilgun, 84, parish priest, Catholic Worker, peace activist, advocate for racial justice and integration and a founder of the Mustard Seed which provides food for the homeless, a free health clinic and counseling for the poor died at UMass Memorial Medical Center-University Campus.

In May, Bishop McManus announced that St. Mary’s, St. Hedwig’s and Notre Dame of the Sacred Heart parishes in Southbridge would be merged into one parish in July. The parish was named for Blessed John Paul II.
Also in May, the Sodality of Our Lady at the College of the Holy Cross came to a close because of dropping membership. It was founded in 1946 as the Sodality of Our Lady of Worcester County to encourage traditional Catholic devotions to the Blessed Mother. The name later was changed to Sodality of Our Lady.

In June, five priests for the Diocese of Worcester were ordained June 4 by Bishop McManus in St. Paul Cathedral. The five are Fathers Juan D. Echavarria, Edwin Montana, Nelson J. Rivera and Guillermo J. Ochoa, all from Colombia, and Father Marcin W. Nowicki from Poland.
Eight men were ordained permanent deacons June 11 in St. Paul Cathedral. Bishop McManus presided. Bishop Reilly and Bishop Cesar Corneil Amaro of the Diocese of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic were among concelebrating clergy. Those ordained were: Malcolm S. Colgate, 53; Robert S. Connor Jr., 49; Paul J. Dacri, 57; Kevin J. Diegnan, 61; George Estremera, 58; Israel Fernandez, 42; Franklin Lizardo, 46, and William White, 64.
Msgr. Louis R. Piermarini, 68, pastor of St. Roch Parish in Oxford and diocesan director of religious education from 1979 to 2006, died June 26. He was ordained a priest on May 15, 1969, and was named a monsignor Nov. 23, 1991 by Pope John Paul II.
Also in June, Catholic Charities in Southbridge provided aid to the victims of a tornado that did severe damage to areas in Monson, Brimfield, Sturbridge and part of Southbridge. In addition to making food items and clothing available, Catholic Charities also helped people fill out paperwork to apply for emergency aid.

The first Mass in the newly named Blessed John Paul II Parish was celebrated July 2 in Notre Dame Church in Southbridge by Father Peter Joyce, pastor. The parish was formed in May from St. Mary’s, St. Hedwig’s and Notre Dame of the Sacred Heart parishes. At the Mass, Father Joyce told the congregation that the new parish is their home. “Welcome home,” he said, and received a standing ovation.
Cardinal Antonio Naguib, Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, celebrated the Divine Liturgy July 25 in St. Mary’s Church, Uxbridge, where Coptic Catholics have been meeting. Coptic Catholics are members of the universal Church in union with the pope.

On Aug. 20, the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated the 125th anniversary of their arrival in Fitchburg.  Bishop Rueger marked their anniversary by celebrating Mass in the Presentation convent in Leominster. On Aug. 20, 1886, the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a group of Sisters of the Presentation came to St. Bernard Parish to teach.  They went on to establish eight schools in the diocese.
With the retirement of Dr. Ronald Jolda, the program’s medical director, the free health program in St. Bernard’s Church at Our Lady of Providence Parish was closed Aug. 25 after 11 years of serving the area. The program was instituted by the Guild of Our Lady of Providence at the request of Bishop Reilly. The Guild said it was unable to find another director to replace Dr. Jolda.

On Sept. 8, St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Upton was officially formed from Holy Angels Parish in Upton and St. Michael’s Parish in Mendon. Bishop McManus celebrated Mass Sept. 11 in the new church at 151 Mendon St., Upton, to mark the dedication of the new parish.
Emmanuel Radio, WNEB 1230 AM in Worcester, which on May 1 began broadcasting Catholic programming provided by the EWTN Radio Network, hosted a public reception and Mass Sept. 25 at St. Paul Cathedral, celebrated by Bishop McManus and Bishop Reilly.
Father Stephen Johnson, pastor of St. Joseph and St. Pius X parishes in Leicester, died Sept. 15 in Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge after a long illness. He was named to the diocesan Youth Ministry Team in 1976, chaplain of the diocesan Scouting program in 1977 and chaplain for New England Area 1 Scouting in 1981.
A 13-foot-tall,Vermont gray granite statue of Blessed  Pope John Paul II was erected at St. Joseph Basilica Church in Webster. The statue was the gift of Theodore and Helen Dawicki, parishioners. Msgr. Anthony S. Czarnecki, pastor, asked Bishop Reilly to unveil the statue at ceremonies on the lawn in front of the church. St. Joseph Parish, founded in 1887, is the oldest Polish-American parish in New England and is said to be the second-oldest in the United States. Blessed John Paul II is the first Polish pope and it was he who elevated St. Joseph’s to the status of a basilica in 1998.

Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Worcester celebrated its 100th anniversary Oct. 2.
Sister Bernadette Madore, fourth president of Anna Maria College in Paxton and author of a history of the college’s first 50 years, died Oct. 9. She was the college’s president for 15 years after serving as its dean of academic affairs for more than 25 years. Even though she was retired, she continued to work at the college until a few weeks before her death.
St. Roch Parish in Oxford celebrated its 125th anniversary Oct. 16 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop McManus.
Several famed entertainers, including Norm Crosby, Terry Moore, John McDermott, Theodore Bickel, Tricia Leigh Fisher and others appeared Oct. 15 at the Hanover Theater in a benefit for the St. John’s Parish food program. The show, called “A Night of Stars: Celebrity Gala to Benefit Food for the Poor,” was organized by Francis R. Carroll,  chairman and chief executive officer of the Small Business Service Bureau and a St. John’s parishioner, and Father John Madden, pastor. Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, was keynote speaker.
A snowstorm that dropped anywhere from six inches to two feet of snow Oct. 28-29 in Central Massachusetts pulled down tree limbs and power lines and left sections of the diocese without electrical power for several days. The storm closed St. John’s Cemetery in Worcester, Gethsemane Cemetery in Athol and Calvary Cemetery in Dudley until they could be cleared of debris.

Father John F. Burke, 82, pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in West Boylston, died Nov. 3.  He served as associate pastor and pastor of several parishes before being named pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish on Nov. 20, 1978. He served there until he retired in 2004.  He was chairman of the diocesan Ecumenical Commission,  chairman of the Massachusetts Commission on Christian Unity, recipient of the John XXIII ecumenical medal, served in the diocesan Senate of Priests and was secretary and steering committee member of the New England Consultation of Church Leaders.
Nearly 500 women attended the diocesan women’s conference Nov. 5 at the DCU Center. The theme was “Gratitude: Acknowledging and Affirming God’s Grace in Our Lives.” Former WBZ TV news anchor Liz Walker was a keynote speaker. Bishop Rueger preached the homily at the closing Mass.
Charles E. McManus Jr., 72, the first lay superintendent of Worcester diocesan Catholic schools, died Nov. 18 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. He was named superintendent on July 1, 1986, by Bishop Harrington. Before that he taught at St. Anthony School and St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School in Fitchburg and was named the first lay headmaster at Holy Name Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School.
St. Mary Parish in Brookfield and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in West Brookfield were merged Nov. 21 by Bishop McManus and became Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish. The new parish is based at Sacred Heart Church, which is larger and has a parish center. St. Mary, now the oratory  for the new parish, was built as a meeting house in 1754. It may be the oldest church building used by Catholics in the section of North America settled by the English. It has served Congregationalists and Unitarians until it was bought in 1865 by the pastor of the Catholic parish in Ware and converted to use as a Catholic mission.

In a story in The Catholic Free Press, Bishop McManus reported on his ad limina visit to Pope Benedict XVI and other Church officials at the Vatican in November. The bishop filed a report describing life in the Diocese of Worcester since his last ad limina visit. The report is 94 pages long and includes statistics and information about pastoral initiatives.
The Our Lady of Fatima Church building with attached hall at 43 Belmont St. was sold Dec. 30 to the Chinese Gospel Church located at 21 Belmont St. for $675,000, according to Msgr. Thomas  J. Sullivan, diocesan chancellor.
Father Juan Herrera, 31, was ordained a priest for the Worcester Diocese on the last day of 2011 in St. Patrick Church, Whitinsville. He is a native of Colombia.