Vatican approves merger of 2 Woonsocket parishes

Blackstone Valley

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A plan to merge two neighboring parishes in Woonsocket has been approved by the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence announced Monday.

All assets of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, which celebrated its final Mass in January, will become part of All Saints Parish.

The Diocese said declining attendance, increasing facility costs and a significant loss of parish income led to the decision.

The Vatican rejected an appeal to keep St. Charles open, saying it had “no foundation either in law or in fact.” The Vatican did, however, affirm a proposal from the diocese to retain the church building for use as a place of worship on an occasional basis.

“I am very grateful for, but not surprised by, the ruling of the Vatican to uphold our decision regarding St. Charles Borromeo Parish,” Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a statement.

“Throughout this process, we have documented very clearly the need to undertake these provisions and we followed exactly the requirements of the Code of Canon Law,” he continued. “I pray that those who have objected to these decisions will now work closely with their local pastors and devote their energies to the renewal of the Church in the Woonsocket area.”

Earlier this year, the Diocese formed a task force to study the long-term use of St. Charles Church and offer recommendations to Bishop Tobin.

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