By William T. Clew
GARDNER – Holy Spirit, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Joseph parishes will be merged to form one parish effective July 1, Bishop McManus announced.
The new parish will be named Annunciation Parish, he said. He said the new parish will have two worship sites. The primary worship site will be Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church at 135 Nichols St. Holy Spirit Church at 50 Lovewell St. will remain open as a chapel. Bishop McManus has announced that effective July 1, Father Joseph J. Jurgelonis will be pastor to the new parish.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church at 166 Cross St. and St. Joseph Church at 358 Pleasant St. “may be used for liturgical services at the discretion of the pastor of Annunciation Parish,” the bishop said.
The bishop said he took the action after the Diocesan Pastoral Planning Committee “recommended to me that in order to serve the needs of the Catholic population in the city of Gardner more effectively,” the four parishes – Holy Spirit, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Joseph – be merged to create one new Catholic parish for the city of Gardner, under the title of Annunciation, with one pastoral team.
“In view of this recommendation, and after hearing the parties mandated by law, most especially the Presbyteral Council, in accord with canon 515, §2, of the Code of Canon Law, I, the Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, holding before me my pastoral responsibilities to this particular church, hereby declare and decree the following: Holy Spirit Parish, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and Saint Joseph Parish, all located in Gardner, Massachusetts, are hereby merged to form one parish, in accord with canon 121….”
The bishop said the boundaries will include all of Gardner and part of Hubbardston. That part of Hubbardston excluded from the new parish begins at the town lines of Hubbardston and Templeton and comprise both sides of Ragged Hill Road up to the junction of Ragged Hill and Gardner roads, then to the junction of the Westminster and Hubbardston town lines and then northerly along the town lines of Westminster and Gardner back to Betty Spring Road.
Annunciation Parish will assume the goods, assets including property rights and the burdens and liabilities of the four parishes from which it was formed, “respecting the intentions of the founders and donors, concerning the allocation of goods and the fulfillment of obligations, in accordance with canon 121 and 123,” according to the bishop’s announcement.
The four churches will retain their names, “in accordance with canons 121 and 123,” the bishop’s announcement stated.
In the decree, Bishop McManus described each of the closing parishes and the responsibility of the new parish toward the communities served by those parishes as follows: “Holy Spirit Parish is a territorial parish serving the pastoral, spiritual and sacramental needs of the Catholic community in southern Gardner, Massachusetts. Its parish church is located at 50 Lovewell Street, Gardner.
“Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish is a personal parish serving the pastoral, spiritual and sacramental needs of the French Catholic community in Gardner, Massachusetts. Its parish church is located at 135 Nichols Street, Gardner.
“Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish is a territorial parish serving the pastoral, spiritual and sacramental needs of the Catholic community in the central, northern, eastern, and western sections of Gardner, Massachusetts. Its parish church is located at 166 Cross Street, Gardner.
“Saint Joseph Parish is a personal parish serving the pastoral, spiritual and sacramental needs of the Polish Catholic community in Gardner, Massachusetts. Its parish church is located at 358 Pleasant Street, Gardner.”
“Annunciation Parish is to accommodate to the extent possible the cultural and spiritual traditions of the French community of Our Lady of the Holy Rwosary Parish and those of the Polish community of Saint Joseph Parish;
“The sacramental records of Holy Spirit Parish, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, and Saint Joseph Parish are hereby placed under the guardianship of Annunciation Parish;
“Holy Family Academy, located at 99 Nichols Street, Gardner, is hereby placed under the guardianship of the pastor of Annunciation Parish;
“Annunciation Parish will enjoy public juridic personality by the law itself, in accord with canon 515, §3.”
The bishop had announced in a letter to the parishes last fall that he planned to merge the four parishes.
“Having considered the state of the parishes as they exist today, the needs of the community as a whole and the ever-growing mission to evangelize in our communities, I have decided to accept a recommendation to establish one new territorial parish with two worship sites for Gardner,” he wrote. He said building a new church to serve the Gardner community would not be “financially feasible.”