PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and several members of the Provincial Council will celebrate a farewell Mass at St. Mary’s Church Feb. 19, a week after a diocesan priest assumes pastoral care of the parish. John will preside.
The Diocese of Providence announced in January that Msgr. Jacques Plante will begin his service on Feb. 10, several months earlier than originally planned.
The Province’s original timeframe was for withdrawal from the parish on June 30. John said the date was moved up after several conversations with the diocese. In a phone call in mid-January, John said that Bishop Robert Evans told him that the diocese wanted to assume pastoral responsibility of St. Mary’s Parish in mid-February. “He indicated that the diocese wanted the new administration to take responsibility before Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22,” John noted in a Jan. 23 letter to friars.
The Province announced last October that on Nov. 7, the Province would close its 55-year-old St. Francis Chapel. The decision was based on finances and personnel, said John in his letter. Soon after, for the same reasons, the Province announced its 2012 withdrawal from the Church of St. Mary on Broadway.
Steven Patti, OFM, pastor of St. Mary’s, announced at Masses the weekend of Jan. 21 the appointment of Msgr. Plante and the new date of the transition, and emphasized the diocese’s commitment to the parish.
“Overall, people seem comfortable with the situation,” Steven said. “One person said to me, ‘St. Mary’s lives on!'”
John said: “I am grateful for the compassionate ministry of so many friars for 55 years in the city of Providence.”
The friars are preparing for their personal transitions. Scott Brookbank, OFM, shown in the photo behind the photo above, will leave Providence later this month to begin his new position at the Franciscan novitiate in Wisconsin, Charles O’Connor, OFM, will be going to St. Francis Chapel near Albany, N.Y., to serve a temporary assignment during Lent, and Steve will remain in Providence to help with the transition.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.