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Parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann and Our Lady of Loreto react to merger

Posted By January 21, 2017 | 4:00 pm | Lead Story #1
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Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press
WORCESTER – Happiness, determination to pray and support for the pastor were among worshippers’ responses after the official announcement that Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann and Our Lady of Loreto Parishes will merge Feb. 1.
Bishop McManus’ decree about the merger and a letter he sent parishioners were read at the vigil Mass at Our Lady of Loreto Church Jan. 21. The pastor of both parishes, Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone, also addressed the issue in preaching and prayer.
“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.
“It’s about time,” added her husband, Chester. He spoke of the need to pray for healing for those having trouble with the changes.
“We are in support of our pastor, who has put up with a lot of indignities that are not Christian,” he said.
Msgr. Pedone said he did not see at Saturday’s Mass any members of the Mount Carmel Preservation Society, a private group that opposed him, and has been raising money and trying  to save Mount Carmel Church. But he said there was a good mix of Mount Carmel and Loreto parishioners there.
“We’re sad but … it takes a lot of pressure off the bishop and Msgr. (Pedone),” Loreto parishioner James Buffone said of the decision to merge the parishes. “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.
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 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 May 1, 2016, due to safety concerns from structural issues.
News about the merger was circulating Friday after the parishes’ shared bulletin was posted online. The announcement at Mass the next day was made assuming that listeners had already heard the news.
Msgr. Pedone began the homily time 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.” There is sadness in loss but “life must go on.”
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 decree, adding after he finished: “And I am very happy to say it’s happened.”
Msgr. Pedone then read Bishop McManus’ letter, which referred to Scripture readings from the Mass and offered encouragement. The bishop highlighted the exhortation in 1 Cor 1: 10: “I urge you … that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united … in the same purpose.” He said that when people live by the light of faith, they find the abundant joy mentioned in Is 8:23-9:3.
The bishop wrote about parishioners continuing pastoral educational and charitable activities in the new parish and expressed confidence in Msg. Pedone to continue to lead the parish. He called for invoking the prayers of the Blessed Mother, patroness of both parishes.
Msgr. Pedone added to the Prayers of the Faithful a prayer for the parish moving forward.
At the end of Mass he said he is very happy about the merger. He recalled words of a former pastor of Mount Carmel, Father John J. Capuano, now deceased: “Semper Avanti” (always forward).
“We need to be about the Church’s mission,” Msgr. Pedone said.
He said he would send a letter to all registered parishioners, explaining the immediate effects of the merger. 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 his letter in the parish 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!”

Newly formed parish will serve Italian Catholic community

WORCESTER – Worshippers at Our Lady of Loreto Church this weekend will hear the official news that Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann and Our Lady of Loreto parishes are being merged. Talks about the merger had been ongoing for more than a year.
Bishop McManus’ decree, which goes into effect Feb. 1, says that there will be a single personal parish to “serve the care of souls and spiritual and sacramental needs of the Italian 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 May 1, 2016, due to safety concerns from structural issues.
News about the merger was circulating Friday after the parishes’ shared bulletin was posted online.
Discussion about the merging of the two parishes has been in the works for more than a year, noted Raymond L. Delisle, chancellor and director of communications, who released the information. The discussions had been delayed in part due to the deliberations over the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church repairs, he said. A group calling itself the Mount Carmel Preservation Society had been seeking to keep the Mulberry Street church open by raising money for repairs and by petitioning the city to designate the site a historic district.
A vote of the Worcester Historical Commission Thursday night not to explore the creation of a historic district on the Mount Carmel property, had no bearing on the timing of the merger announcement, Mr. Delisle said.
Parish committees recommended that the merger  move forward in the best interest of the faithful so that they could be a community sharing a common mission, Mr. Delisle said.
The decree cites the decline in parish membership at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and that the church building “is in a state of disrepair and has been deemed unsafe by architectural and structural engineers hired by the parish” which would be beyond the means of the parish to repair, the press release states.
The decree notes the history of the parishes: Our Lady of Loreto was built as a mission of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1955 and formally “erected” or established as a personal parish in 1965 “to assist in serving the spiritual and sacramental needs of the Italian community of Worcester.” A significant shift in the demographic population of their neighborhoods has taken place since that time and membership has declined. A single pastor was named to serve both parishes two years ago and programs and ministries such as religious education were shared. A joint parish council has been assisting the pastor, Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone.
Given that Our Lady of Mt Carmel-St. Ann was the product of a merger in 1962 to care for Catholics residing in the territory of St. Ann Parish, and that the new parish would be worshipping in a church located away from “St. Ann’s Hill,” the territory is being assigned to Our Lady of Providence Parish, whose territory abuts the neighborhood and worships at St. Bernard Church located on Lincoln Street.
The disposition of the property is identified as follows in the decree: “The ownership of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church and the plot of land on which it sits, along with all the property belonging to Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann Parish bounded by Mulberry Street, East Central Street and Leo Turo Way, will be transferred to the newly titled Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.”
The new parish will also get the sacramental records of the former parish.
“The remaining goods, assets and liabilities of the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann Parish are to be divided between Our Lady of Providence Parish and the newly titled Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, in due proportion in equity and justice in consideration of the number of parishioners received into each.
Bishop McManus and Mr. Delisle signed the decree Jan. 18.