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St. Albert closure reversal completed

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After nine-months of parishioners holding 24-hour vigil at St. Albert the Great Church in Weymouth, the archdiocese officially revoked the parish’s closure June 13.

The vigil, the first occupation to protest reconfiguration, began days before the parish’s scheduled closure on Sept. 1, 2004. Archbishop Se├ín P. O’Malley announced on March 31 the reversal of that decision, based on the advice of the Meade-Eisner Reconfiguration Review Committee.

Those participating in the vigil celebrated at the church as news of the decision spread. People cheered, whistled, hugged each other and cried. For 10 weeks the archdiocese provided a priest to celebrate Sunday Masses while parishioners waited for the reversal to be officially completed.

The archbishop “spent a couple of months trying to bring this out the best way possible. On June 13, he completed that canonical process,” said Father Mark O’Connell, assistant for canonical affairs.

"The parish remains open as a full parish," and Archbishop O'Malley has appointed Father Laurence J. Borges as pastor, he added. Father Borges, currently part of the team ministry at St. Stephen Parish in Framingham, was pastor at St. Albert's from 1994 to 1999.

It was announced on May 25 that St. Albert’s, the smallest of the five Weymouth parishes, would close. The parish was chosen in part by its cluster because it did not have a school. Parishioners protested closure from the beginning and maintained that their parish was “vibrant.”

The eight-member Reconfiguration Review Committee, headed by Peter Meade and Sister Janet Eisner, was formed in October 2004 to evaluate the reconfiguration process. Since then, the committee has recommended the delay of parish closures and reconfiguration changes in Charlestown, Stoughton, Newton and Lexington.

The decision to reverse the St. Albert closure came as part of the committee’s final report, which was made public March 31. The committee also recommended reopening St. Anselm Church in Sudbury, also the site of a 24-hour vigil, as chapel of a neighboring parish. The committee supported many decisions made in reconfiguration, including the suppression of five other churches in which vigils are still ongoing.

So far, the reconfiguration process is over 75 percent complete, and the archdiocese has closed 63 parishes in the last year. Nineteen parishes are scheduled to be suppressed in the next 18 months.

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