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Saying goodbye to an old friend

Farewell, Marie McCarthy.

I don't usually write first person articles, but it seems that my own viewpoint keeps creeping into any other version of this story that I attempt to make, so bear with me for this once.

I was on the altar this weekend, serving as Lector, when the final decision about the fate of St. Charles Borromeo parish was announced. A stalling, tearful Father Chester Misiewicz read Bishop McManus' letter informing parishioners that our small neighborhood church, nestled among Cape Cod houses and crab trees on June Street would be merging with the parish from whence it was spawned a half-century ago; Blessed Sacrament on Pleasant Street.

It wasn't a shock. After all, we at St. Charles have been living in this limbo of uncertainty since last year when a similar letter was read to us from the pulpit informing us of the possibility of closure after a trial period. The time was allotted us in order that we might gather information for feedback to the bishop.

Dedicated parishioners formed a committee who then explored the options that suited the needs of the parish best. Whether they were being stubborn or truthful would be hard to prove one way or the other. But what the committee found was that no other parish, no other building and no other location would better serve the needs of those assigned now to St. Charles than St. Charles.

Listening is a skill that the Church purports will aid us all in our ministry toward others. Vatican II gave the entire world hope that perhaps the Church was beginning to actually hear the flock that it was pledged to lead. But in most cases, things have not really changed, have they? The lowly voices are heard, perhaps. But actual listening is something not yet mastered by many in high places, both in the Church and the secular world, it would seem.

In any case, the efforts of the committee and others were in vain, evidently. And the church we all love will be put on the market in July.

I was surprised by only one aspect of the weekend's announcement. That was my own reaction. Much to my embarrassment, as I sat behind Fr. Chet on the altar, the tears welled and overflowed. In an effort to keep anyone from noticing, I refused to wipe them off my cheeks, thus they dripped and dripped onto my lap throughout the homily and onto the floor throughout the rest of the Mass.

Why do I cry about this? I asked myself. Was it because of the images of myself at age twelve, sitting in the back row sharing a Coke with then associate pastor Fr. Riddick after having performed my weekly vacuuming job of the entire church for twenty bucks? Or was it those memories of my all too young husband and I at age twenty walking down the aisle on our way to our adventure in life together? Or the Baptisms of all eight of my children? Or the funeral of my beloved Auntie Mae with Uncle Al seated in the front pew dressed in his felt hat for the occasion?

Or were the tears falling for Marie McCarthy? Marie was one of the co-benefactors of the parish. Now she, in eternal rest with her husband would have to endure the rolling over in the grave that he, beside her would be doing!

The image causes one to chuckle, admittedly. But Marie McCarthy, with her husband, having had no children, bequeathed thousands to the parish they loved for the very purpose of keeping the place open and functional. One wonders what will happen to their life-savings now.

In any case, this article is my chance to say sorry, Marie and farewell to you. The closing of St. Charles Borromeo finally ends your life and legacy here. Rest in peace; if your husband will allow it.

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