First anniversary of Holyoke parish hosts hundreds
Story and photos by Terence Hegarty
HOLYOKE – Exactly one year after celebrating their first Mass together, parishioners of Our Lady of the Cross Parish here gathered for a “Mass of Thanksgiving” to celebrate the first anniversary of the forming of their parish.
Our Lady of the Cross Parish was the result of a merger between the former Mater Dolorosa Parish and the former Holy Cross Parish. On July 1, 2011, it was a new experience for parishioners as they gathered in Holy Cross Church on the day that the parish was established. On July 1, 2012, more than 250 gathered in that same space for the 10:30 a.m. anniversary Mass.
The two parishes were merged as part of the diocesan pastoral planning process. The Diocese of Springfield’s consolidations began in 2008 and were largely concluded by the start of 2010. Mater Dolorosa Church was closed and Holy Cross Church on Sycamore Street became the official worship site for the parish.
Coventual Franciscan Father Alex Cymerman, pastor of Our Lady of the Cross Parish, was the principal celebrant. Father Roland Galipeau, long-time pastor of Holy Cross, joined Father Cymerman, as did Father Francis X. Sullivan, and Conventual Franciscan Fathers Stanley Sobiech and Albert Scherer.
“Those of us who are here today, we are part of the history of the past year,” said Father Cymerman in his homily. But, he said that not everyone present looked at the day as a celebration. “I’m sure there are people here for whom this is a remembrance of something they lost one year ago…and we have to expect that.”
“As we try to reflect on all this, it is appropriate for us to come to Jesus and say ‘what are we supposed to do?’ The answer is here my friends,” Father Cymerman said, tapping the pages of the open Lectionary. “Do not be afraid; just have faith. That’s what Jesus said.”
Even the altar servers who served the anniversary Mass had also served the parish opening Mass one year earlier.
Edward Cote, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Cross, was a parishioner of Mater Dolorosa Parish for 31 years before the merger.
“I think change is a part of life,” Cote told iobserve. He said that he and his wife did not have difficulty with the transition. Cote said both he and his wife have experienced losses of Holyoke institutions in the past. “She was a member of (Holy) Rosary (Parish), which was torn down in 1972,” he said. “And I went to school at Precious Blood and that one’s gone also.”
Joan Nadeau, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Cross, grew up in Holy Cross Parish. “One of the things that has been a beautiful thing about merging is that we are now a larger parish and the church is full now,” Nadeau told iobserve.
“We have enjoyed meeting our MD (Mater Dolorosa) family and combining traditions.” She said the merger hasn’t been all easy. “We’ve had our moments of struggle, but we’ve persevered.”
Nadeau said the anniversary Mass was exciting and gave her hope for the future. She said that she anticipates, “Moving forward and just remembering we’re a parish, and it’s the people that matter.”
For more on this story, tune in to an upcoming edition of the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly television newsmagazine “Real to Reel,” which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.