EDITORIAL: Wallingford, Meriden churches adjust and thrive

EDITORIAL: Wallingford, Meriden churches adjust and thrive


Recent adjustments made by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford came as a shock to many parishioners. On June 29, the archdiocese went from 212 parishes to 127. Of those, 68 have remained as they were, and 59 have merged into unions of two to six churches. A total of 186 churches remain open, while 26 closed.

But this has also been a time of consolidation, of strengthening, of building parish communities, and of blending cultures in Meriden, Wallingford.

Most Holy Trinity Church in Wallingford, with its 3,675 families and 10,000 individual members, is among the few churches that did not close or merge with another church or parish during June’s reorganization. Much of Holy Trinity’s strength is its diversity, the Rev. Jorge Castro said. The church, constructed between 1876 and 1887, is among the older structures in Wallingford. “There is growth in both communities,” Castro said, referring to the Anglo and Latino parishioners.

St. Rose of Lima Church in Meriden is another church with a long history that did not close or merge. It was built by Irish immigrants who were discriminated against in other parts of the city. Many of those families have moved away, and in the 1950s, people from Puerto Rico found a home at St. Rose.

Its 70 percent Latino population is one reason it remained open, according to the Rev. James Manship, who came to the Meriden church as part of the reorganization. “There is a settling out going on in Meriden right now,” said Manship, noting the church has added families from some of the closed churches.

Holy Trinity holds five weekend Masses. Parish groups help the disadvantaged both locally and out of state. Christine Mansfield, a former town councilor who also serves on the parish council, views the church community as a reflection of the town’s diversity. “It’s a perfect example of where our communities have united,” she said.

At St. Rose, Manship has spent the past two months getting to know his parishioners. “There is integrity and caring in both communities, there is a great deal of generosity here,” he said. “It’s important to be in the homes to know the lived experiences. It’s important for priests to know the stresses on our families.”

The process that resulted in the reorganization of many parishes was “not just about trying to close buildings that we can’t afford or buildings that are only half used,” according to Archbishop Leonard P. Blair. Although many parishioners are sad to see churches close, what’s important to Blair now is “reinvigorating the community, reinvigorating the priests and people alike.”

In these two venerable churches, that’s what seems to be happening.


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