CONNEAUT — Saint Mary Church will host its final Mass on April 16 at 11 a.m., after which the church will be formally closed.
The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announced the move in a press release and a letter to parishioners on Sunday.
The decision formalizes previous planning by the parish, according to the release. Mass has been hosted at Saint Frances Cabrini since 2020, and on Jan. 6, Rev. David Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, received a petition to formally close the church, according to the release.
The petition was submitted by Reverend Raymond Thomas and Nicholas Perkoski, the diocesan pastoral associate, in conjunction with the parish’s pastoral and finance counsels.
The decision was announced at Saturday’s Mass, and is the result process from the pastoral and finance councils that prioritized parish ministries and programs over the course of several years.
The cost of supporting two church buildings would have a negative impact on the parish’s ability to continue to grow, according to the press release.
“We’ve done a lot of consultation with our finance council and pastoral council over the years with this, kind of making sure that we were good stewards of the people’s money,” Perkoski said on Monday.
The parish is getting to a point where having two church buildings is no longer feasible, he said.
“It’s very sad,” Perkoski said. “This has been kind of a difficult thing for me because I grew up here. I grew up in both of these parishes.”
The decision tugs at his heartstrings, he said.
“But we have to look forward to the future, and realize that the parish is not about buildings, it’s about doing the work of God and our community,” Perkoski said. “That’s what we have to focus on.”
Bonnar will celebrate a closing mass at Saint Mary Church on April 16 at 11 a.m., and at 1 p.m., he will lead a Eucharistic Holy Hour at St. Frances Cabrini Church.
The two churches were merged into one parish in 2008, according to the press release.
“It is always sad when a church building closes because it holds so many memories,” Bonnar said in a letter to parishioners.
“One of my responsibilities as bishop is to ensure that our history is preserved and artifacts are treated with reverence and respect. Accordingly, I have directed our diocesan office of patrimony to catalog and preserve sacred objects from Saint Mary Church and work with Father Thomas and your pastoral leadership to determine an appropriate use ... While our church buildings are precious to us, the First Letter of Saint Peter reminds us that we are all ‘living stones.’”
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