Parishioners say farewell to Scituate church

Boston Globe

By Astead W. Herndon GLOBE STAFF MAY 29, 2016

SCITUATE — Hundreds of solemn parishioners crowded St. Frances X. Cabrini church for a final service Sunday morning — but by nightfall, the church was strangely quiet, the dismantling begun.

By midnight Monday, St. Frances will be empty for the first time in 4,235 consecutive days, no vigilers sleeping on shabby cots in tight quarters, some using boiling water from an electric teapot to wash in the morning. Gone are the legal advisers consulting with parishioners on ways to block the Boston Archdiocese from forcing them out of the church they have defiantly occupied since 2004.

In the end, legal appeals ran out. When the Supreme Court refused to hear the parishioners’ case against the archdiocese on May 16, the nearly 12-year, round-the-clock vigil to save St. Frances from being closed down was over, as was the congregation’s relationship with the archdiocese.

At Sunday’s service, longtime churchgoers officially said a reluctant goodbye to their beloved spiritual home, with bitter words for the Catholic hierarchy. Legally, the congregation has been ordered by a court to vacate the church by 11:59 p.m. Monday.

“In war, there are casualties, and unfortunately our church will be one,” said Jon Rogers who, along with his wife, Maryellen, have spoken for the vigilers. The church gave Rogers a whooping ovation for his reflections on the group’s “revolution of faith.”

“This is not a death, but the birth of a new church and a new way of thinking,” he said. “We are the bright light our world needs, and I pray that we burn forever.”

Vigilers announced plans to form a new “Catholic community” church in Scituate. It would operate outside the Boston Archdiocese and be partly led by the Rev. Terry McDonough, a married Massachusetts priest who has long been at odds with Catholic leadership.

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