Millville Church Seeks New Pastor

Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette [Millville MA]
April 29, 2003

MILLVILLE- Two women from St. Augustine parish are enlisting support of their fellow parishioners to preserve their community of faith and to keep the parish alive in the absence of a permanent pastor.

Lois Salome and Margaret Carroll, retired elementary school teachers, have worked to get more than 400 people in the parish and the town to send letters and postcards and to make personal telephone calls to Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and other chancery officials asking for a permanent pastor. The mail is going to the chancery at 49 Elm St., Worcester, and to the bishop's home, also in Worcester.

"We are in a vacuum," said Ms. Salome, who with Ms. Carroll is active in the parish.

However, the struggle goes beyond the women. Others from the parish have gotten involved to focus efforts on saving the parish. The church was rebuilt 25 years ago after a fire destroyed the old church.

The parish is debt-free, Ms. Carroll said. "We are very proud of that. We care about our parish."

The Rev. Jean-Paul Gagnon, their pastor for several years, took personal leave last fall after a civil suit was filed alleging that he sexually abused Timothy P. Staney of Worcester when he was a teenager.

Bishop Reilly responded to their call for help by holding a Holy Thursday service for them in their church, and said he will return to meet with parishioners, the women said.

St. Augustine was the church of 450 families before Rev. Gagnon left the parish. Attendance at Mass has dropped dramatically, they said. Parish life is not as it should be, they added.

The women said their issue is with maintaining their faith community. They said the issue of Rev. Gagnon has been left to others.

They called a meeting of parishioners April 6 that was intentionally held away from parish property. Fifty people showed up. People were invited to tell their concerns about the parish since their pastor departed. They promised to include everything in a letter to Bishop Reilly.

When the letter was made available to parishioners for signing recently, people were amazed that everything was included. "We are only stating facts and not feelings," Ms. Carroll said. The letter that went to Bishop Reilly was a group letter that managed to include what everyone was thinking.


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