Woonsocket church, open since 1846, set to close early next year

Blackstone Valley

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Diocese of Providence officially announced Monday that St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Woonsocket, which has been in existence since 1846, will permanently close at the beginning of next year.

Bishop Thomas Tobin granted the request of Father Joseph Upton and parish trustees to shut down the church following a steady decline in Mass attendance, sacramental practices, and parish income.

“At this time of transition, I extend my prayerful support to all members of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, which has been a source of stability and strength for faithful families for generations,” said Bishop Tobin. “Let us continue to rely upon God’s goodness and providence as we begin a new chapter in our common journey of faith.”

The dioceses said the number of registered families in the parish has dropped more than 50% in recent years, from 190 in 2012 to about 90 presently and attendance has dropped more than 40% in that time, from 230 in 2012 to 90 for both remaining weekend Masses.

Sacramental practice has also been on the decline. From 2015-2018, there were just 37 baptisms, two children received first Communion, 17 confirmations and no weddings.

While repairs to the building and equipment – including the roof, heating system and stained glass windows – have come at a cost of almost $600,000, The annual income of the parish has fallen more than 50% in the past five years.

The dioceses said all sacramental records will remain at their current location, the rectory office of All Saints Parish, 323 Rathbun St., Woonsocket. The assets, debts and liabilities of the parish will be assumed by the Diocese of Providence, in accord with Church canon law.

The Canonical Decrees are available here.

The final Masses will be celebrated on the weekend of January 11/12, 2020.

Spokeswoman for the Diocese of Providence Carolyn Cronin nothing has been decided when it comes to the future of the church building.

“The diocese will follow the standard procedure for church closures as dictated by Canon law which could possibly include a sale of the property in the future,” she said in a statement.

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