SOUTHINGTON — Local parishioners’ appeal to the Hartford Archdiocese to prevent the closure of St. Thomas church hasn’t changed the minds of church leaders about parish consolidation plans.
Mike Fasulo, a St. Thomas parishioner, has helped lead a local effort to keep the church open. He’s attempted to get the ear of the Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair but hasn’t met with success.
The St. Thomas closure is part of a larger effort to consolidate the five Catholic parishes in Southington. Four other parishes in town, St. Aloysius, Immaculate Conception, Mary Our Queen and St. Dominic, will remain open for St. Thomas parishioners.
The Rev. Joseph Cronin, pastor at St. Thomas and St. Dominic, led parish meetings earlier this year on the future of the 161 year-old St. Thomas building and the consolidation of other parishes in town. Cronin said the building needs expensive repairs and that money could be better used to build a church that can hold all the Catholic parishioners in Southington.
The consolidation plan could include the demolition of the St. Thomas building to make room for the new, larger church. That prospect angered some parishioners who met earlier this month to oppose those plans.
Fasulo hoped that Blair or other archdiocese leaders would help prevent closures and the St. Thomas demolition but isn’t optimistic now.
“I’ve sent 247 signatures on a petition opposing the demolition of the church,” Fasulo said. “They haven’t responded to me in any way.”Parish decision to remain
David Elliott, the archdiocese associate communications director, said Blair has exchanged correspondence with those opposing the St. Thomas closure. Elliott said the archdiocese defers to plans made by local church leaders about parish consolidations.
During a meeting earlier this year, Cronin said parishioners voted to accept the closure plans. Elliott said the recent petition and letter from Fasulo and others hasn’t changed what’s already in motion.
“The position of the archdiocese remains that the parish decision in Southington remains the right one, to consolidate efforts and resources and parishioners into building something that is bigger and better for the people of Southington,” Elliott said. “There were venues for these opinions and these points of view to be brought forth and to be discussed and to be considered.”
Fasulo said the meeting earlier this year wasn’t billed as one where the future of St. Thomas would be up for a vote. He said his petition has more names on it than the 125 or so parishioners who attended Cronin’s meeting either in person or virtually.
Cronin could not be reached for comment Thursday. He said the consolidation of parishes was prompted by a lack of priests but could also help energize local Catholics and bring together parishioners and programs.Final mass
A decommissioning mass will take place at St. Thomas on Sunday. Fasulo said he “absolutely” won’t be in attendance.
“If I attend that mass, it’s like I agree with that’s happening, and I’m not,” he said.
Once the church is decommissioned, Fasulo said it’ll likely be harder to reverse the decision or save the building.