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Parishioner input sought on Stoughton closure

By Christine Tolfree
Posted: 12/3/2004

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STOUGHTON — After having received information indicating the decision may have been made to close the wrong Stoughton parish, the archdiocese is once again turning to parishioners for input on reducing the number of parishes in the town. While the archdiocese appears to be responding to calls for lay input on reconfiguration, some parishioners claim the process will simply reopen wounds caused by the cluster meetings this spring.

In May, it was announced that St. James Parish would be closed as part of the archdiocesan reconfiguration process. Another Stoughton parish, Our Lady of the Rosary, was to be the receiving parish.

However, after a review of the facilities of Our Lady of the Rosary revealed that the church may need as much as $500,000 in repairs, the archdiocese decided to rethink the closing. In October, the archdiocese announced that the suppression of St. James would be delayed. The parish was originally scheduled to be shuttered on Oct. 31.

Now after nearly a month, rather than impose a decision, the archdiocese has asked parishioners to provide input on which of the two parishes should close.

Meeting with members of both parishes Nov. 22, moderator of the curia Bishop Richard G. Lennon proposed parishioners form a 10-person committee consisting of five members from each parish.

The archdiocese wants parishioners’ “suggestions and recommendations” based on the challenges presented by the structure of Our Lady of the Rosary, said Molly Horton, a spokesperson for the archdiocese.

Many parishioners from St. James say they are frustrated by the decision. Earlier this year, the local cluster team recommended that Our Lady of the Rosary close — a recommendation that ultimately was not followed.

Some doubt that a new committee would find any new information.

The poor condition of the building has been known for some time, said Grace Dalton, a parishioner at St. James.

The religious-education classes for both parishes are now being held at St. James after the building of Our Lady of the Rosary was found to be “unsafe” at the beginning of the school year, said Dalton whose grandson attends the classes.

“It feels as if that would be a fool’s errand to put myself again through a very, very painful process,” said Marilyn Hausammann, a parishioner at St. James.

Hausammann, who served on the cluster review board, said Bishop Lennon made it clear that the new committee’s recommendation — like the cluster’s earlier recommendation — would be considered, but was not binding.

Hausammann and other parishioners are disappointed in the lack of resolution.

“I think a number of us expected to have a resolution before the holiday season,” she said. “It is my fondest wish that this and other situations would be resolved as soon as possible.”