Diocese of Worcester
Changes Announced for Manchaug and South Royalston
Mergers to designate churches as chapels
June 15, 2012, WORCESTER, MA – Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, officially announced today that there would be a merged territorial parish for the Town of Sutton beginning this July. He also announced that the Mission serving the South Royalston area will be designated a chapel. The anticipated announcements were verbally shared last month at a parish meeting in Sutton and at a pastoral planning meeting involving the various parishes and mission in the Athol area.
In his decree, Bishop McManus noted why the changes were recommended in Manchaug by the Diocesan Pastoral Planning Committee. One parish serving the needs of all of Sutton “is a more effective way of ministering to the needs of the relatively small Catholic population residing in Manchaug, more responsibly utilizing diminishing parish resources and responding more appropriately to present and future financial concerns of St. Anne Parish and its church.”
St. Anne Parish, Manchaug, will be merged with St. Mark Parish, Sutton, to form one territorial parish. The name of this newly-merged entity will be St. Mark Parish. The boundaries of St. Mark Parish will be co-terminus with the boundaries of the town of Sutton, Massachusetts, including the area known as Manchaug. St. Mark Parish will assume the goods, assets, including property and patrimonial rights, as well as the burdens and liabilities of St. Anne Parish, respecting the intentions of the founders and donors, concerning the allocation of goods and the fulfillment of obligations, in accord with canons 121 and 123. St. Mark Church and St. Anne Chapel will retain their respective titles, in accord with canon 1218. St. Mark Parish is to accommodate to the extent possible the spiritual traditions of St. Anne Parish. The sacramental records of St. Anne Parish will be placed under the guardianship of St. Mark Parish.
Regarding the changes in South Royalston, that decree referred to Pastoral Planning Committee recommendations that “Our Lady Queen of Heaven Mission Church be designated a chapel under the guardianship of the pastor of Our Lady Immaculate Parish. Such an arrangement, in the opinion of this Committee, is a more effective way of ministering to the needs of the few Catholics worshipping regularly at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Mission. The Committee believes that Our Lady Immaculate Parish can provide for their spiritual and sacramental needs adequately.”
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Mission will be merged with Our Lady Immaculate Parish, Athol, Massachusetts, to form one territorial parish. The name of this newly-merged entity will be Our Lady Immaculate Parish. The boundaries of Our Lady Immaculate Parish will be co-terminus with the boundaries of the town of Athol, Massachusetts, and the town of Royalston, Massachusetts. Our Lady Immaculate Parish will assume the goods, assets, including property and patrimonial rights, as well as the burdens and liabilities of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Mission, respecting the intentions of the founders and donors, concerning the allocation of goods and the fulfillment of obligations, in accord with canons 121 and 123. Our Lady Immaculate Church and Our Lady Queen of Heaven Chapel will retain their respective titles, in accord with canon 1218. The sacramental records of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Mission will be placed under the guardianship of Our Lady Immaculate Parish.
As in all other mergers in the diocese, all assets and liabilities of the current parishes will be transferred to the new parishes. This includes all buildings such as halls and rectories.
The Diocese of Worcester has been involved in pastoral planning in earnest since 2005, and parishes have been reconfigured in Worcester, Fitchburg, Clinton and Southbridge. In some cases parishes have been consolidated and churches were closed and have been sold to other religious groups. In Upton/Mendon, a new, larger church was recently dedicated for the two communities to be served by one parish, St. Gabriel the Archangel. Discussions for a new church continue in Harvard/Bolton which is already merged as one parish. Currently, the Diocese of Worcester has 104 parishes and four missions.