QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-05 > 1116336981
Subject: Last French parish to close doors
Date: Tue, 17 May 2005 09:36:21 EDT
Last French parish to close doors
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
By BILL ZAJAC
SPRINGFIELD, MA - The former St. Joseph Parish, the last French ethnic church
in the city, will close when a final Mass is celebrated June 26 at 4 p.m.
The parish has operated as a mission of St. Michael's Cathedral for the past
"There are no longer many people living in the neighborhood. It has been
steadily declining for years," said Monsignor Richard S. Sniezyk, vicar general of
the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and rector of St. Michael's
Only 50 people have been attending the single weekend Mass at St. Joseph in
recent years. Of those 50, only four live in the South End neighborhood,
The neighborhood's changing ethnicity from French to Italian to Latino, urban
renewal, and the construction of Interstate 91 with the loss of many
residences all contributed to the decline of the parish, Sniezyk said.
Meanwhile, the diocese could soon be entertaining interest in the former
parish's properties, which include a church, and former rectory, school and
convent on nearly an acre at the corner of Howard Street and East Columbus Avenue.
"We'll be looking at any offers. It is a great location near the Hall of Fame
and close to the Hall of Justice," Sniezyk said.
The diocese had received inquiries in recent years into the property but
refused to consider them while it was still operating as a parish or mission,
according to Sniezyk.
Some weddings and funerals for former parish members will be held at the
church for a short time after the last Mass, according to Sniezyk.
St. Joseph became Springfield's last French ethnic parish in 1998, when St.
Aloysius became part of the merged St. Jude Parish in the Indian Orchard
section, and St. Thomas Aquinas in the city's North End closed.
St. Joseph was founded in 1873 by the Rev. Louis-Guillaume Gagnier, who
founded six smaller parishes in the Springfield diocese before founding St. Joseph.
It was founded to serve French-Canadians.
At the time it was founded, the South End was a predominantly French
Its school merged with St. Thomas Aquinas School in 1977 and the merged
school closed in 1996.
The Rev. John L. Sullivan, who served as the mission's last administrator,
relinquished his administrative duties for the parish when it became a mission
in 2002. Sullivan, who continued to celebrate a single Mass at the church,