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Barre parishes slated to merge on July 1

Posted By April 29, 2013 | 12:56 pm | Local
DIOCESAN-SEAL

By William T. Clew

BARRE – St. Joseph and St. Thomas-A-Becket parishes will be merged July 1 with a new name selected by Bishop McManus, who will consider suggestions from parishioners in both parishes.
In a letter to the parishes last month, the bishop said that both churches will continue to be used, but St. Thomas-A-Becket will be the new parish’s primary worship site. St. Joseph’s will be  the site for one Mass on Sundays and parishioners may request its use for weddings, funerals and other services.
The bishop said that the rectory at St. Thomas-A-Becket will be renovated and used by the merged parish. St. Joseph’s rectory, which is across Barre Common from the church, will be sold. The bishop said in the March 14 letter that he picked St. Thomas-A-Becket rectory because of its location near the church.
The bishop noted, in a letter dated Sept. 7, 2012,  that  talks on the pastoral needs of the two parishes were started a few years before. He said that, during the summer of 2012, physical building problems came to light. He then urged Father Thomas H. Hultquist, pastor of St. Joseph’s, and Father Michael N. Lavallee to call parish meetings to start the process of merging the parishes.
Father Lavallee said the merger committees have been meeting  to bring together those committees common to both parishes, such as finance and religious education committees, among others.
He said planning for the merger is challenging for both parishes. Change is difficult, he said. There is a need for conversation and some level of adaptation for both parishes.
Father Hultquist said the religious education committees have agreed that the classes will be held in the St. Joseph’s parish hall, because it has better accommodations. He said the times have not been determined, but classes will probably be held in the morning for primary grades and in the evening for secondary grades.
Mass times also will be determined. He said there are six weekend Masses between the two parishes now. That will be reduced to three after the merger.
Discussions are continuing about some aspects of the merger, he said. There will have to be some give and take between the parishioners of the two parishes. It will take a little time to get used to the change.
“God exists everywhere,” he said, “not just in one building.”