WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — St. Charles Borromeo parish has been serving people in Woonsocket for the past 175 years. On Sunday, the church held its final Mass as it prepares to close its doors for good.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence says declining attendance, increasing facility costs and a significant loss to parish income led to the decision.
The rainy, windy morning didn’t stop the faithful parishioners from celebrating Mass one final time.
“I would be nothing if not for Saint Charles church,” Lisette Saint Germain told Eyewitness News. “I have to remain hopeful. That is one of the three christian values and I think hope is the biggest one.”
St. Charles Borromeo has a rich history in Woonsocket and parishioners are hopeful the church can still be saved. Members have even formed a committee to keep it open.
“By canon law the bishop does have a right to build and close churches, but he can’t if it has grave consequences to the souls of the church,” parishioner Richard Monteiro said. “We are making the argument that it does.”
Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt also wants to see a future for St. Charles Borromeo.
“Woonsocket may be an older community, but we are very community based. And when something like this is taking place they don’t just lay down and be silent. They rise up and they are vocal and they share their opinion and this church remaining open is extremely important to the city of Woonsocket,” she said.
Eyewitness News contacted the diocese but they would not talk about the closing.
In a press release announcing the closure in November Bishop Thomas Tobin said he granted the request of Father Joseph Upton and parish trustees “to close the church building following thorough pastoral planning process, and consultations with diocesan staff, the diocesan College of Consulters and the Council of Priests.”