Home/Stay Informed/All Diocesan Articles

All Diocesan Articles

 

 

St. Mary Church in Norwich to Receive $800K State Grant for Restoration and Preservation Work

Posted on June 21, 2023 in: News

St. Mary Church in Norwich to Receive $800K State Grant for Restoration and Preservation Work

The State of Connecticut has placed a grant of $800,000 for the repair of St. Mary Church, Norwich, in its budget for the new fiscal year. 

"With this grant we will be able to restore the church tower, not simply stabilize it," Father Bob Washabaugh, pastor of St. Mary, said. It also gives the church at 70 Central Ave. access to a $200,000 restoration grant from the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as future grants.          

"There is still a great deal to do to repair the church: the front facade, accessibility issues, efficient heating, windows," Father Washabaugh said. 

St. Mary’s is the second oldest parish in the Diocese of Norwich, and the oldest in the diocese east of the Connecticut River. 

 

 

Article continues below video....

 

 

A Proud History

Dale Plummer, the Norwich City Historian tells us the history of St. Mary Church.  “The parish originated among the Irish workers constructing the Norwich and Worcester Railroad from 1835 to 1842…. While the early church congregation was comprised almost wholly of Irish Catholic Immigrants, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries other immigrant groups arrived in Greeneville (sic)  [the Norwich neighborhood where St. Mary’s is located] including Poles, Italians, and others from Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as Cape Verdeans. 

The significance of St Mary’s lies not only in its architecture and prominent place in the streetscape of Greenville, but as a parish that welcomed new immigrants and helped them adjust to an often-hostile new environment.  Today that tradition continues with the church serving Haitian and Hispanic newcomers to Connecticut.”

A Challenging Present 

Today, 400 families, most of them born in other countries, fill St Mary’s handsome Gothic revival building that stands as a reminder that the Catholic Church cares for immigrants.  Sunday Masses are in Spanish and Haitian Creole with a bilingual Sunday vigil Mass (English/Spanish).   

In April of 2022, examination of the front façade and church tower at St Mary’s revealed instability in the stonework so dangerous that closing the parish and demolishing the building seemed likely.  In this time of parish restructuring, plenty of parishes face the possibility of closure.  However, St Mary’s ministry with immigrants, migrants and refugees affects the calculation.  The immigrant ministry of St. Mary Church and several other parishes in our diocese is taking place in a time when immigration is a major concern.  Do we ‘welcome the stranger’ or not?  Catholic teaching says that we must!  The people of St Mary’s, and Bishop Cote share the same conviction: St. Mary Church is a landmark institution which must be kept at the service of Norwich’s new arrivals, many of whom are Catholic. 

The people of St. Mary’s are pouring themselves into the repair project through pledging, fundraising projects, raffles, and neighborhood appeals.  The parish is forging ahead, having put its reserves at the service of the repair. 

All told, St. Mary’s has pulled together $852,000 to repair its building.   The civic community is backing their efforts.  The State Office for Historic Preservation has granted St. Mary’s $220,000, and a $500,000 bond from the State Bonding Commission is pending.  Still, the cost of stabilization will approach $1,500,000.  Full preservation will cost more.  Quite a challenge!

A Bright Future 

Ten years ago, Pope Francis described the Catholic Church’s mission: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle.”  Today’s world does look an awfully lot like a battlefield strewn with bleeding bodies.  Our Catholic Church itself looks the same way.  So many of us feel broken and beaten down.  Strangely, what looks at first sight like tragic loss, can prove to be a bright opportunity, an occasion for us, the Church, to shine.  Shouldn’t we Catholics make every effort to let today’s migrants have the same opportunities that previous generations of immigrants had?  Don’t we heal our own wounds best by tending to those who are more wounded than we?  It is a funny kind of bright future we believe in.  But it is real, and it holds Christ’s own promise.

Contributions to St. Mary’s Restoration Fund are gratefully accepted at: jnccfaith.org


Most Viewed Articles of the Last 30 Days

New London Couple Recognized as State’s Longest Married Couple
New London Couple Recognized as State’s Longest Married Couple   In each of the 71 years that Russell and Pauline DeMarco have been married, their love for each other has grown stronger. How does such an enduring love last despite the challenges and differences that all married couples face? The answer, the couple says, lies with two necessary and key ingredients – patience and understanding. As a way of recognizing and honoring the enduring love of couples like the DeMarcos, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, (WWME) a faith-based marriage enrichment pr...

Read More

Resources to Help You on Your Lenten Journey

Posted on February 15, 2024 in: News, Lent

775

Resources to Help You on Your Lenten Journey
During Lent, we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection through prayer and reflection. We contemplate the promised Second Coming of Jesus as Savior. And amid the flurry of preparations, we look for practical ways to observe the holiness of the season in our everyday lives. To help you with this preparation, we have gathered various Lent resources into one convenient online location. Here you will find several articles and videos about Lent, along with tools and links to help guide you in the understanding of this holy time.    ...

Read More

Saint of the Month: St. John Bosco

Posted on January 29, 2024 in: News

714

Saint of the Month: St. John Bosco
          His one-boy show: Giovanni was born to poor parents in a little cabin in Becchi, a hillside hamlet in Italy. His father died when he was only two years old, and his mother Margaret was left with three sons to raise on her own. As soon as Giovanni was old enough, he learned magic tricks from performers at carnivals, fairs and circuses. He gave one-boy shows to earn money, and then repeated the priest’s Sunday homily to his audience of children.   On deciding what to do with his life: Giovanni Bosco also worked a...

Read More

Rest in Peace- Deacon Nicholas J. Cannata

Posted on February 06, 2024 in: News

681

Rest in Peace- Deacon Nicholas J. Cannata
Deacon Nicholas J. Cannata   (January 20, 1931 - February 4, 2024)   Nicholas J. Cannata, 93 (although he was aiming for 100 in his draft obituary), of Portland, husband of 65 years to Bianca Russo Cannata, left this world on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Born January 20, 1931 in Middletown, he was the son of the late Nicholas and Francesca (Giardina) Cannata. Nick was predeceased by his eight older siblings. Two brothers-Emanuel and Sebastian Cannata; and six sisters-Anna Santavenere, Antoinette Spallone, Rose Filette, Helen Marino, Viola Bozzi a...

Read More

Archdiocesan Time Capsule: ‘Do Not Open Until … November 2093’
Have you ever wondered what happened to the time capsule from the Archdiocese of Hartford’s 175th Anniversary celebration? You may recall that at the 175th Anniversary Mass on Nov. 28, 2018, Catholic parishes, schools, and other organizations were asked to bring packets of memorabilia to be buried the following year in a time capsule on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, for reopening sometime in the distant future. The precious items are now organized and safely tucked away, but not underground as you might expect. Instead, they are housed in the Archd...

Read More

A Ticker Tape Message from God: How a non-Catholic Sociologist Became a Catholic Theologian
A Ticker Tape Message from God: How a non-Catholic Sociologist Became a Catholic Theologian   IN THE SUMMER OF 1987, Cynthia Toolin-Wilson reluctantly consented to accompany her husband and mother-in-law on a trip to Rome. Her husband Jim and his mother were devout Catholics, Cynthia was not. She was not anti-Catholic, she just wasn’t particularly interested in things religious. But, since visiting Rome was her elderly mother-in-law’s lifelong dream, Cynthia agreed to go on the condition that she would not have to visit any “religious&rdquo...

Read More

Annual Fundraiser

Help Us Spread the Word with Your Gift

Your 100% tax deductible gift will help us continue to bring the gospel message and the news of the diocese to the faithful throughout eastern Connecticut and the world. Your generosity helps defray the production costs of our print, online, and email newsletter editions of the Four County Catholic, as well as enhancing our Social Media presence. 
 

For those who would rather mail their gift click here.

 
Signup for Weekly Newsletter


    Recently Added Galleries
    Click to view album: Nativity photos
    Click to view album: Archbishop Kevin S. Randall - Episcopal Ordination, Nov. 4, 2023
    Click to view album: Rite of Election
    Click to view album: Mass of Ordination  for Fr. Jacob Ramos
    Latest Articles
    Friday Lenten Meal Schedule
    Save the Date: Catholic Charities Annual Golf Tournament
    New Initiative Strives to Explain the Perennial Question: “What is Love?”
    Monthly Pro-Life Mass to be Held March 2
    What Would Thomas Aquinas Make of AI?
    Our Lady of Lourdes has Chartered a Bus for the CT March for Life - Sign-up Details Here
    A Beautiful Act Of Contrition

    Annual Catholic Appeal

    ACA DONATE

    English

     

    Español

     

    Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich
    201 Broadway
    Norwich, CT 06360-4328
    Phone: 860-887-9294