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2014 Highlights in the Diocese of Worcester

Posted By January 2, 2015 | 4:28 pm | Lead Story #1, Uncategorized

This year, many in the Worcester Diocese took note of
the historic canonization of two popes:
John XXII and John Paul II.

Compiled by William T. Clew

January:  Roderick P. Murphy, director of Problem Pregnancy of Worcester Inc., and his wife, Jean,

Rod Murphy prays regularly outside the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Worcester.

Rod Murphy prays regularly outside the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Worcester.

journeyed to Washington, D.C., to observe oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case challenging the 35-foot buffer zone around the entrances to abortion clinics in Massachusetts. Those who wish to offer alternatives to those seeking abortions were prohibited by the law from doing so inside the buffer zone. (See June for more.)

The St. Francis Xavier soup kitchen at St. John’s Parish on Temple Street saw a significant increase in January in the number of people who came daily to the kitchen for meals. Bill Riley, manager of the kitchen, said the increase came after the Salvation Army Citadel soup kitchen on Main Street closed for a couple of months for renovation. The St. Francis kitchen saw the number of visitors rise from 175-200 daily to 200-250.
The Diocese of Worcester finished the 2013 fiscal year Aug. 31 with an operating surplus, Bishop McManus reported. In a letter to the diocese, the bishop said “our financial reports demonstrate that we have been good stewards of the donations we have received either directly or through our parishes.” The operation surplus for the fiscal year was $122,418.
The Trappist monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey began to produce Spencer Trappist Ale, brewed in a state-of-the-art brewery on the monastery grounds in Spencer. It is said to be the first brewery at a Trappist monastery in the United States. Income from sales covers living expenses for the monks and maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Any surplus income is donated to charity.
The Diocese’s youth and young adult ministry was renamed “New Evangelization Worcester For Youth & Young Adults” (NEW for short), and got a new website and a new logo with a host and chalice.
Deacon Alphonse T. Desautels, 78, of North Oxford, died Jan. 11 at home. He is survived by his wife, Mary T. Desautels, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other family members. He was born in Worcester, and was a Korean War Veteran who served in the United States Navy. He was ordained a permanent deacon for the Diocese April 25, 1992 in his parish, Our Lady of the Angels, Worcester, where he served.

February: The Worcester Diocese began a series of meetings to discuss the authority and limits of pastors and parish finance councils and guidance for their work together. Bishop McManus said the focus was on educating and assisting finance councils and pastors in effective administration.

Father Nicholas Desimone, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Uxbridge, and Father Jonathan J. Slavinskas, associate pastor of Blessed John Paul II Parish, Southbridge, met with about 30 young people at the Center Bar and Grill on Green Street to answer their questions about vocations and the faith. It was sponsored by the NEW Office.
Father John E. Kelly, 78, died Feb. 10 after a long battle with cancer. He was born in Fitchburg. He was ordained a priest May 27, 1961 by Bishop Flanagan in St. Paul Cathedral, then served for a year in the Archdiocese of Denver. He served several parishes as associate pastor and as pastor, taught religion at St. Peter High School, served on the diocesan Senate of Priests, Vocations Board, Priests’ Personnel Board and as dean of deaneries.

March:  A student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, though not a Catholic when she became a member of the college’s Newman Club, WPI_6667BaptismWEBfound her faith there. Emily Cambrola, a biomedical engineering student, who grew up in Warren, R.I., began attending Newman Club meetings on the WPI campus at the invitation of a friend. She found that she was drawn to the faith and realized she wanted to become a Catholic. On March 2, before family and friends, she was baptized, confirmed and received her first Communion at a Mass in Alden Hall on campus.

Five people received Worcester diocesan pro-life awards at the annual Mass for  Life on the feast of the Assumption, March 25, at a Mass celebrated by Bishop McManus in St. Paul Cathedral. The honorees were Roger and Joyce Dubuque of Worcester, and James “Jay” Guillette of Holden, who all received the Mother Teresa Pro-Life award; Julia Gilberto of Weston, a junior at Assumption College, who received the Ruth V.K. Pakaluk Pro-Life Youth award, and Father Daniel J. Becker, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Warren and St. Stanislaus Parish in West Warren, who received the Gospel of Life award.
Jack F. Calareso resigned as president of Anna Maria College in Paxton to become president of St. Joseph’s College in New York. He had served as Anna Maria’s 10th president, and the first layman to head the college, since July 1, 2007. Sister Yvette Bellerose, SSA, chairwoman of the college’s Board of Trustees, said that during his tenure Anna Maria increased its endowment, recruited the largest two classes in its history, became financially stable and grew its campus community exponentially.
Bishop Rueger was honored by the Adopt-A-Student program, which named a scholarship for him. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Boston Archdiocese was the main speaker at the March 27 event, the seventh annual Adopt-A-Student Recognition Dinner in Mechanics Hall. The dinner is a fund-raiser for the program, which provides financial assistance to qualified students in the diocese’s Central Catholic schools.

April:    Bishop Reilly, proclaiming that “life is a gift!” led more than 75 people in an hour of prayer near the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts building at 470 Pleasant St. as part of a 40 Days for Life vigil. The bishop led the group in praying the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet and urged those who took part not to give up the fight against abortion.
More than 1,200 people  packed the DCU Center in downtown Worcester April 5 for the 14th annual Worcester Diocesan Men’s Conference. They heard speakers,  browsed through vendor tables where religious item were sold and re-established connections with other like-minded Catholic men.
stjohn_6793SanctuaryWEBRenovation and restoration of the sanctuary and triptych, the side spaces and front wall at St. John’s Church were completed. The remodeling was done to restore the sanctuary and triptych to the way it looked in 1916. The work was done by Master Liturgical Design of Amherst. The church suffered heavy damage in 2004 when the ceiling collapsed. The restoration was part of the repair work, Father John F. Madden, pastor, said. Frank Carroll, chairman of the parish building committee, was instrumental in planning the project, Father Madden said.
A Southbridge parish celebrated its new name – Saint John Paul II Parish – after  the late pope was canonized a saint in the Catholic Church April 27 in Rome. Pope Francis also canonized Pope John XXIII on the same day. Bishop McManus decreed that the name of Blessed John Paul II Parish in Southbridge be changed to Saint John Paul II Parish effective April 28. The parish includes Notre Dame, St. Mary and St. Hedwig churches, which retain their titles, the bishop said. Father Peter J. Joyce, pastor, was in Rome for the canonization ceremonies, along with 16 parishioners.
Three teams of students from St. Anna Elementary School in Leominster won first prizes in their grade categories in the Massachusetts eCybermission competition hosted by the U.S. Army Education Outreach Program. The eCybermission is a nationwide web-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition for students in grades 6 through 9. More than 29,000 students entered.
Nine students – five seniors and four juniors – from Holy Name Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School journeyed to Haiti with “Be Like Brit” over their Easter vacation and built a small home for a needy family. Be Like Brit is a non-profit named for Britney Gengel of Rutland, a student at Lynn University in Florida who lost her life in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti while on a mission with Food for the Poor. Her parents, Leonard and Cherylann Gengel, raised money and built an orphanage in Haiti named for their daughter.

May: The diocesan School Department released a plan it said calls for a new vision for the future of Catholic education in Webster. According to the proposal, classes from kindergarten through fourth grade would be held in St. Louis School, classes from fifth through eighth grades would be held at St. Joseph School and preschool would be held at St. Anne School. The plan was arrived at after six months of professional data studies and extensive local consultations by the Webster Joint Study Committee made up of parish representatives and community leaders. (See October for more)
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow and former secretary to the late St. John Paul II, visiteIMG_8437FrJonathanWEBd St. Joseph Basilica in Webster. He was in the United States to raise money to support the “Be Not Afraid” John Paul II International Center in Krakow. The Cardinal presented a relic of the late pope and concelebrated Mass in St. Joseph Basilica with Bishop McManus, Bishop Reilly and Msgr. Anthony S. Czarnecki, pastor of St. Joseph’s. He also visited St. Joseph’s Elementary School and met with parishioners and other area residents for lunch at Point Breeze Restaurant and for dinner at the Polish American Citizens Club.
Bishop McManus ordained 10 men deacons May 31. Five are married men to serve the diocese as permanent deacons. Five are transitional deacons studying for the priesthood. Transitional and permanent deacons assist at the celebration of the Mass as ordinary ministers of Holy Communion  and by proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. They can assist at and bless marriages and preside over funerals and wake services and are dedicated to various works of charity.
Bishop McManus celebrated Mass in St. Paul Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the Xaverian Sisters in Petersham, establishing the presence of the congregation in the United States.

June: Bishop McManus ordained James M. Boland and Charles P. O. Omolo  as priests June 8 in St. Paul Cathedral. Father Boland IMG_9446WEBwas born in Framingham and grew up in Northborough where he was an altar server in St. Bernadette Parish. He is associate pastor at St. Luke the  Evangelist Parish in Westborough. Father Omolo was born in Kenya and was an altar server in St. Boniface Parish in the Kisumu Archdiocese. He is associate pastor at St. Peter Parish and St. Andrew Mission, Worcester.
Our Lady of the Lake Parish marked the 60th anniversary of its dedication with a Mass celebrated June 6 by Bishop Rueger. The parish was established July 2, 1952. Construction of the church began March 13, 1953 and, on June 1, 1954, Bishop Wright dedicated the completed church.
The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously struck down a Massachusetts state law that had established a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics into which protesters and pro-life counselors were prohibited from entering. Local people, two of whom were plaintiffs, who regularly hold vigils outside the Planned Parenthood facility on Pleasant Street, were jubilant about the decision. The Diocese issued a statement applauding the decision “supporting the right to free speech on public sidewalks.”
Members of the Diocese praised a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court June 30 that said closely-held companies may be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives, including drugs considered to be abortifacients in health insurance plans. Allison LeDoux, diocesan director of the Respect Life and Marriage and Family offices, called the decision a “great victory. It’s a landmark ruling because it upholds the rights of conscience that we’ve been working so hard to maintain and fight for.”
Emmanuel Communications, owners of WNEB 1230 AM Emmauel Radio in Worcester, announced plans to acquire WESO 970AM in Southbridge by late summer. Cindy Dorsey, general manager of Emmanuel Radio, said it would be all Catholic programming by Labor Day.

July: Heywood Healthcare of Gardner entered into a contract to buy the property of the Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin at 211 North Main St., Petersham. Heywood Healthcare received a $1.3 million state grant to help pay for the purchase and renovation of the 21-acre property and transportation costs for patients to the facility. The property is occupied by a 74,000 square-foot residence containing 122 rooms, including 83 bedrooms. Heywood will establish a mental health and substance abuse facility there, according to Heywood officials.
The state legislature passed and Gov. Patrick signed a new buffer zone bill around abortion facilities. The U.S. Supreme Court in June unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that had established a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, ruling it unconstitutional. The new bill establishes a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics. It would allow police to order someone who they believe is “substantially impeding access” to a clinic to stay at least 25 feet from the facility entrance for up to eight hours. The bill was filed by State Sen. Harriett L. Chandler, D-Worcester. Allison LeDoux, diocesan director of the Worcester Diocese’s Respect Life office, called the new law “unconscionable….  It’s like the state government is mocking the Supreme Court.”
About 250 young people from the Worcester Diocese joined nearly 3,600 others at the University of Rhode Island to attend the Steubenville East youth conference, sponsored by the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. Its mission is to “invite young people into a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ through the sacraments of the Church and the power of the Holy Spirit.”

August: Diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools Delma Josephson announced that St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School in Fitchburg would open a new Advanced Academy in the fall. The Advanced Academy is a program that consists of pre-advanced placement classes in the 9th and 10th grades, followed by Advanced Placement (AP) classes in the 11th and 12th grades. Students in the Academy would be expected to take three to five AP classes while at St. Bernard’s.
Mrs. Josephson also announced the retirement of long-time St. Bernard’s headmaster James Conry. Mr. Conry served at the school for 25 years as teacher and principal before becoming headmaster in 2003.
The Sisters of St. Joseph signed a purchase and sales agreement with Tryko Partners, a nursing home operator, to buy the 52-acre Mont Marie campus in Holyone. Tryko will acquire the 84-bed Mont Marie Health Care Center and manage the Mont Marie Senior Residence and St. Joseph’s Residence on the property. Professional consultants had determined that the property was too large and too expensive for the 235 sisters in the Springfield congregation to maintain.
St. Peter’s Parish in Petersham celebrated the 100th anniversary of the dedication of its church. According to a town history, the first Catholics in Petersham came in the mid-1800s and traveled to Otter River for Mass. Later, Catholics in the north of town went to Athol and those in other sections went to Barre for Mass. In May 1914, Father James J. Howard, pastor in Athol, began construction of the church. It was completed and dedicated on Aug. 30, 1914. It became a parish in 1917, with St. Anne in North Dana as its mission. In 1933, with the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir and the loss of Dana as a town, it reverted to mission status. In 1965, Bishop Flanagan raised it again to a parish.
Holy Family Academy in Gardner, the result of a merger of Holy Rosary and Sacred Heart elementary schools, began the new school year Aug. 29 with a 9 a. m. Mass in Holy Rosary Church celebrated by Bishop McManus. He then led a procession of students from grades 5 through 8 from the church to the Sacred Heart campus, where they attend classes.
Father Brendan W. O’Donoghue, 92, died Aug. 26 at St. Francis Nursing Center. He was born in Worcester. Bishop Wright ordained him a priest in 1950 in St. Paul Cathedral. He served many years in the diocese, including as choir director at several parishes.

September: John Toner was named interim music director of St. Paul Cathedral, succeeding Lei Ray Yu. A native of Long Island, N. Y., he received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music and, in 1991, earned master’s degrees in music and sacred music from the Yale University School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music.
PIC2011_logoThe Diocese of Worcester received a $1.6 million bequest to Partners in Charity from the estate of Claire R. Berthiaume of Shrewsbury, who died in 2012. She was a teacher in Northborough and Framingham for many years. Bishop McManus said, “Her bequest is a blessing for the thousands of people who benefit each year from our pastoral, educational and charitable  programs.”
John Hoogasian was named interim principal at Assumption Elementary School in Millbury. He has more than 30 years of experience teaching in public schools. He was principal of St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School in Fitchburg from 2003 to 2004. He coaches track and field at the College of the Holy Cross.
The 1964 St. Mary’s High School basketball
team, the only Worcester high school basketball team ever to win the New England championship, was inducted into the St. Mary’s High School Athletic Hall of Fame 50 years after that championship season. The Eagles, playing teams from schools with much larger enrollments, won the Western Massachusetts championship, which qualified them for the New England tournament in Boston Garden.
The U.S. Department of Education notifiBR-pked St. Bernadette Elementary School in Northborough on Sept. 30 that it had been

selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. It is one of only 50 non-public schools, and the only one in New England, selected.  Bishop McManus congratulated the St. Bernadette School Community “for demonstrating that Catholic schools continue to provide quality education with Catholic values.”
Father Joseph P. Mahoney, 88, died Sept. 20 at St. Vincent Hospital after a brief illness. He was born in Worcester and served in the United States Navy during World War II. Bishop Wright ordained him a priest Feb. 2, 1957 in St. Paul Cathedral. He served in several parishes and ministered in the Spanish Apostolate.

October: Catholic Charities Worcester County announced that it had received a grant of $849,022 from Senior Service America Inc. The funding, originally from the U.S. Department of Labor, will pay wages and benefits to 133 low-income older adults living in Franklin and Worcester counties to work in temporary, part-time jobs. They will take part in the Senior Community Service Employment Program, established 40 years ago by the Older American Act.     Steve Perla, former mayor of Leominster and former diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, entered Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston to study for the priesthood. Mr. Perla, 57, has three children and six grandchildren. His marriage has been annulled. He said he had been discerning the call to the priesthood ever since his marriage ended.
The Worcester Diocese was host to about 400 priests and supporters at Mechanics Hall to raise funds for the care of retired priests. The event raised more than $117,128, according to Michael P. Gillespie, diocesan director of Stewardship and Development.

Sisters of Mercy gather by their plaque at One Eleven Chophouse in Worcester Friday. From left are Sister Carol Kell, a volunteer at McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys in Leicester; Sister Anna Jarkowsky, who serves the community in New York, and Sister Mary Daniel Malloy, staff psychologist in the Worcester Diocesan Judicial Vicar’s Office

Sisters of Mercy gather by their plaque at One Eleven Chophouse in Worcester Friday. From left are Sister Carol Kell, a volunteer at McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys in Leicester; Sister Anna Jarkowsky, who serves the community in New York, and Sister Mary Daniel Malloy, staff psychologist in the Worcester Diocesan Judicial Vicar’s Office

The Sisters of Mercy celebrated the 150th anniversary of the congregation’s arrival in Worcester from New York City. The first sisters arrived on Oct. 24, 1864, just 33 years after the founding of the Order in Dublin, Ireland. They were invited to the city by Father John J. Power, pastor of St. Anne’s Parish on Shrewsbury Street. They opened the first public hospital in the city, St. Elizabeth’s on Shrewsbury Street.
Bishop McManus announced Oct. 20 that St. Louis and St. Anne’s elementary schools in Webster will merge in 2016 to form All Saints Academy. Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Delma Josephson said it is anticipated that All Saints Academy will serve pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, as they do now. Both campuses will be used, she said. She said St. Joseph’s Elementary School, the third Catholic school in Webster, which was to take part in the change originally, has chosen not to do so now.
Three religious sisters received the Retired Religious awards from Bishop McManus at a special Mass at Notre Dame du Lac. Honored for their lives of service were Sister Irene Mizula, Sisters of St. Joseph; Sister Catherine T. Connelly, Sisters of Notre Dame, and Sister Mary F. O’Leary, Sisters of Providence.

November: The four parishes in Gardner – Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, Holy Spirit and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – will be merged into one parish, effective July 1, and St. Joseph and Sacred Heart churches will be closed. Bishop McManus announced the change in a letter to parishioners. Discussions about the changes had been ongoing for more than a year. The new parish will keep Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and Holy Spirit churches as worship sites. He said a new pastoral team will be named in June. Parishioners will be asked for recommendations for a new name for the parish.
Andrew Ravenelle, 16, of Boy Scout Troop 147 in Oxford earned his Eagle Scout award by planning and completing a project to build a shrine honoring Our Lady of Lourdes behind St. Ann Church in North Oxford. The idea for the shrine came from interviews Andrew had with Father Michael Lavallee, pastor, while preparing for confirmation.  The shrine was dedicated to James Cashman, a deceased parishioner and member of the Knights of Columbus.
St. Bernadette Elementary School honored U.S. Army Specialist Brian K. Arsenault of Northborough, killed in action in Afghanistan in September, at the annual Veterans Day program at the school. Specialist Arsenault is the nephew of two St. Bernadette teachers. Each year the school invites veterans to the program, which consists of posting of the flag by an honor guard, a wreath laying and patriotic songs.
Two Leicester parishes, St. Joseph and St. Pius X, were merged into a new parish called St. Joseph-St. Piux X Nov. 29. The Mass celebrating the merger was held the week before in St. Joseph’s Church, which will be closed for the winter, according to Father John Loftus, pastor. Lord’s Day Masses are being celebrated in St. Pius X Church.
Deacon Paul F. Pizzarella, 69, died Nov. 29 at Saint Francis Home, Worcester. He is survived by his wife, Virginia Pizzarella, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other family members. He was born in Worcester and was a Vietnam veteran who served in the United States Navy. He was ordained a permanent deacon for the Diocese June 13, 2009 and served his parish, St. John’s, Worcester.

December: The Diocesan African Ministry opened an office in the Chancery, 49 Elm St. Bishop McManus blessed the new office, room 110, which is behind the book store.
Dr. Rick Sacra, a Holden resident who contracted the Ebola virus while working with patients in Liberia and survived the illness, told a full-house audience at St. Mary’s Church in Holden that he intends to return to Liberia in January. He said he now is immune from Ebola. “God has given me a second chance – life to enjoy my family and to continue to make a difference in Liberia,” he said. He said he hoped people will continue to pray for the people in Sierra Leone, where the disease is spreading rapidly.
Bishop McManus ordained three transitional deacons  Dec. 20 in St. Paul Cathedral. Deacons Carlos Andres Ruiz Vasquez, Juan David Escudero Muñoz and Mateus Monteiro de Souza are in the final stage of preparation for ordination to the priesthood.