July 1 - Cardinal Joins in Celebration of New Parish of Our Lady of Grace*

Groton & Pepperell, MA - Today, July 1, 2009, Our Lady of Grace Parish carries on the mission of the former Parishes of Sacred Heart-St. James (Groton) and St. Joseph (Pepperell) on a journey that has resulted in the establishment of a new Parish in the Archdiocese of Boston.  The new parish includes the neighboring town of Dunstable, which does not have its own Catholic church. Dunstable’s Catholics were previously assigned to St. John the Evangelist Parish in North Chelmsford, which they may still attend if they please.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said, “We extend our blessings and gratitude to the parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Parish and thank God for the spiritual foundation and heritage on which they will build.  They exemplify a wonderful and enriching spirit devoted to serving Christ and His Church.  We are proud to welcome this new Parish into the community of the Archdiocese of Boston.”  

“Today we celebrate the birth of a new Parish, the result of two Catholic families that worked together bound by Christ’s love for the people of God,” said Rev. Paul Ring, Pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish.  “I am so very proud of everyone who helped to make this moment in the life of our Church possible.  We are blessed by a Parish community that exemplifies the Lord’s call to be people of faith, hope and love.”

Episcopal Vicar for the Merrimack Region, Very Rev. Arthur M. Coyle said, “I congratulate the Parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Parish for achieving this important milestone.  They have worked with an incredible spirit, commitment, respect and a shared goal of building a faith community that will serve future generations of Catholics.”
Masses will still be held in both Groton and Pepperell at both St. James and St. Joseph churches, with a revised schedule to begin on July 1. On June 30, the Pastoral Center in Groton closed, and its current operations relocated to St. Joseph’s rectory in Pepperell.

The new Parish intends to pursue the construction of a new, larger church because of space constraints of the two current worship sites.  Combined, the two parishes house 1,450 registered families, and stand to gain approximately 250 more from Dunstable. The parishes hope to build new facilities on a site that is convenient for residents of all three towns, making this the first incidence in the Archdiocese of two parishes merging with the intent of building new facilities. 

Discussions of a possible merger began last winter as a way to address the parishes’ financial difficulties and space constraints.  Fr. Ring, pastor of both Sacred Heart-St. James and St. Joseph Parishes, presented the merger plan to Fr. Coyle who made the formal recommendation to Cardinal Seán. In compliance with Canon Law, the Cardinal presented the plan to the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese in May. After hearing from Fr. Coyle, Fr. Paul Ritt who is the local Vicar Forane, and Fr. Ring, the Presbyteral Council voted unanimously to recommend the merger to the Cardinal.  Cardinal Seán subsequently approved the merger and issued the canonical decree providing the pathway for the parishes to move forward in formally merging.

Transition Team committees, comprised of parishioners from both parishes, are working to address all aspects of the merger.  All parishioners are welcome to join.  Information on the merger process can be found on the web at www.parishtransition.org [Donilon, Terrence]  .

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Archdiocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 292 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 46,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit www.BostonCatholic.org.