FOR MORE PHOTOS GO TO PHOTO GALLERIES and see Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
By Tanya Connor
BROOKFIELD – “The Mass has ended. The parish has begun.”
Those aren’t words from the new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, inaugurated at Masses last weekend. They were the words of Father David B. Galonek, pastor of the diocese’s newest parish, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. He was concluding a Mass celebrating the new parish Nov. 21 in St. Mary Oratory, the church building of the former St. Mary Parish. It had officially merged with Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in West Brookfield earlier that day. Both church buildings remain in use.
At the beginning of Mass Father Galonek read Bishop McManus’ decree proclaiming the merger, then said, “We are now one.”
Beginning his homily the pastor said, “It’s a bittersweet evening; there’s so much wonderful history jam-packed into these parishes.” He recounted some of that history, talking about people who sacrificed and set a good example, priests who served them and the church buildings themselves. He spoke of looking back and moving forward as one parish, asking Mary’s help to do whatever Jesus asks.
It was the new parish’s feast day, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Galonek talked about the tradition that her parents left her in the temple at age 3, where she stayed until the Annunciation, learning to pray, read and write. She had studied God’s Word, and, when she gave her consent, the Word became flesh in her, he said.
Mary held Jesus to her heart, and their hearts beat together, he said. She saw him grow up, followed his ministry and pondered these things in her heart.
“We should take on this identity with Mary … to allow our hearts to be one with their hearts … to have a deep desire to love as they loved,” the pastor said.
He spoke of parishioners making their Catholic presence known in the area, so others will know they are different.
“Let us be beacons that will attract them to our Catholic faith, and never be afraid or ashamed of it,” Father Galonek said. At the hour of death, “may she be there to escort us to his sacred heart in heaven.”
Offertory procession gifts included the parishes’ sacramental records and symbols of their ministry through the pro-life group, St. Vincent de Paul Society, ecumenical food pantry and “Socks for Siberia.”
Christine O’Brien, of Blessed John Paul II Parish in Southbridge, carried forward a copy of her drawing of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which was displayed when Notre Dame and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes in Southbridge celebrated their merger into Notre Dame of the Sacred Heart Parish in 2010. Holy cards with the drawing and a prayer addressing Our Lady of the Sacred Heart were distributed at the Brookfield Mass. Father Galonek said the image will be used on the parish bulletin, seal and rectory sign. Also part of the offertory procession Nov. 21 was a statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart from Notre Dame of the Sacred Heart Parish. Father Galonek said it was a gift from his mentor Father Peter J. Joyce, pastor of Blessed John Paul II Parish, which was formed last summer from that parish and the other Southbridge parishes. Father Joyce concelebrated the Nov. 21 Mass with Father Galonek and Father William G. O’Brien, a retired priest who helps here.
Father Galonek told The Catholic Free Press about another statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
He was born in Southbridge and his family later moved to Sturbridge, where he and his mother prayed before a statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in St. Patrick Church. After St. Patrick’s and St. Anne Parish there merged to form the present St. Anne and St. Patrick Parish, that statue and others were put in storage.
A few years ago a secretary at the Sturbridge parish asked Father Galonek if he wanted any of their statues. Upon learning that the Blessed Mother and Sacred Heart statues he remembered from childhood were among them, he took those two and displayed them in Sacred Heart’s parish center. But they needed refinishing, now being done by Kenneth Jacobson, of St. John the Baptist Parish in East Brookfield. They will be returned to the parish center.
According to information from Father Galonek, Father Jules Chevalier promoted the title “Our Lady of the Sacred Heart” in 1857 in France.
“We would thank and glorify God for having chosen Mary among all creatures to form in her virginal womb the adorable heart of Jesus,” he said. “We ask this compassionate Virgin to lead us to the heart of Jesus.”
Merger of Brookfield parishes announced
By Tanya Connor
St. Mary Parish in Brookfield and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in West Brookfield merged into one parish Nov. 21.
The new parish, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, will use Sacred Heart of Jesus Church as the main church, because it’s a little bigger and has more parking, and also has Dugan Hall in the basement and a separate parish center, said Father David B. Galonek, pastor of both parishes. He will be pastor of the new parish.
St. Mary’s, three miles away, will be an oratory and will continue to be used for one weekend Mass and special occasions, he said.
Father Galonek said that Bishop McManus suggested merging the parishes either on that feast or the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8. The latter is a holy day and celebrates the patroness of the United States, Father Galonek said, explaining, “I thought we would want to have our own unique feast.”
Bishop McManus is to offer Mass for the new parish in the Brookfields at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 at Sacred Heart “to continue the celebration of our oneness,” Father Galonek said. It is to be followed by brunch in Dugan Hall.
Over the past few years the two parishes have been doing much together, so their merger will bring little practical change, except for making it easier to manage finances, Father Galonek said.
“We’re one – that’s a change,” he said. “The great news is the bishop is leaving St. Mary’s open. Having the church open gives us a Catholic presence in Brookfield.”
He said he thinks they can expand their charities. Sacred Heart has a St. Vincent de Paul Society and St. Mary’s houses the food for an ecumenical food pantry.
For Christmas, St. Mary’s holds a “Baby Shower for Jesus” to collect items for Visitation House in Worcester to give to needy mothers and Sacred Heart has an “Angel Tree” to collect gifts for nursing home and rest home residents, he said. The new parish will do both, he said.
Both churches have also been participating in “Socks for Siberia,” started by St. Mary’s parishioners Wally and Michelle Connor to support orphans in Siberia, he said.
“We can do a lot more as a combined parish,” said Bernard Kulas, of Sacred Heart, who formerly headed the parish council. “I’m pleased with the name,” he added, speaking of devotion to both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Mother.
“Father Galonek’s been very good about this,” he said. “He’s very helpful to both parishes. He’s a wonderful pastor. The people are very cooperative.” At a recent meeting about the merger, no complaints were voiced, he said.
“I’m happy now that it’s been announced and people know where we stand,” said Louise Woodard of St. Mary’s, who, with her husband, James Woodard, is on the finance committee. “I think the majority of people are happy with the outcome.” She said there was apprehension, because people did not know what would happen, and saw other churches in the diocese merging.
“We didn’t want our church to close,” she said. When the decision was announced, “I think it was a relief to a lot of people that we wouldn’t lose our church.” St. Mary’s parishioners were brought up there and want to continue to receive sacraments there, she said. And they’ve always been able to support the church financially, she said.
In a letter to parishioners a couple months ago, Father Galonek said that for the past three years he has been seeking advice from members of the diocesan Pastoral Planning Committee about the possible merger.
“During the past four years as I have served as administrator, and now pastor, of St. Mary, and nine years as pastor of Sacred Heart, I have witnessed the benefits of uniting the two parishes as we have worked cooperatively to blend liturgies, services and ministries and to share buildings,” he wrote.
He said they have a merged church bulletin, Bible study, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, religious education classes, and parish council and finance committee, in addition to other ministries.
A real catapult for the two parishes to work together occurred two years ago, when Sacred Heart’s Knights of Columbus Council invited members of St. Mary’s to join it, Father Galonek said. The two parishes also worked together on a float for the 350th anniversary of the Brookfields.
“Every now and then someone would say, ‘We should be one,’” Father Galonek said. He said he prayed about it and the parish council discussed it. Aug. 15 he sent a letter to Bishop McManus, signed by all the parish council and finance committee members, asking to merge the two parishes, he said.
Elizabeth A. Marcil, chairwoman of the diocesan Pastoral Planning Committee, and committee member Msgr. Michael F. Rose, explained the process to them, and committee member Raymond L. Delisle facilitated a meeting for interested parishioners, Father Galonek said.
He said parishioners submitted possible names for the new parish and Bishop McManus honored their first choice. The church buildings will retain their original names.
Father Galonek said it was up to him what to hold at St. Mary’s.
“We will have everything – baptisms, weddings, funerals, and one weekend Mass,” the 9 a.m. Sunday one they’ve been having, he said. The 4:30 p.m. Saturday Mass will be at Sacred Heart, rather than alternating with St. Mary’s, as in the past, he said. Meanwhile, a restroom is being constructed at St. Mary’s, which lost its restroom in the razing of the rectory a few years ago, and this week new carpeting is being installed in St. Mary’s, Father Galonek said.
PHOTO:A Mass to celebrate the new parish was held on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.