September 9, 2013

Hallowell councilor wants to keep Sacred Heart open

Mark Sullivan will offer a resolution at Monday's meeting to keep the church from closing.

By PAUL KOENIG Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL - A city councilor wants the council at its Monday meeting to throw its support behind parishioners who want to keep Sacred Heart Catholic Church from closing.

Councilor Mark Sullivan will propose a resolution urging the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to keep the Summer Street church open. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The future of the 138-member church fell into jeopardy after the death of its pastor, the Rev. George Hickey, a month ago.

The Rev. Francis Morin, administrator of the Augusta-based St. Michael Catholic Parish and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, said last week he would "probably" recommend closing the Hallowell church.

In 2007, the diocese agreed to let Sacred Heart operate as its own parish until Hickey's retirement or death. After that, the agreement was that the church would become part of St. Michael Parish, which is made up of five churches in Augusta, Gardiner, Winthrop and Whitefield.

Sullivan said the church, built in 1878, is an institution in Hallowell, providing valuable charitable and community services to people in the area.

"It's just part of the community that we'll all miss if it closes," he said. "That's why we really think that the diocese should continue keeping it open. It has a strong, vibrant congregation."

Sullivan said he is not a member of the church, but passes it whenever he walks into town.

Morin said last week that his final recommendation will be made public within the next few weeks.

The church's proximity to other churches, namely St. Mary in Augusta and St. Joseph in Gardiner, is one of the reasons the diocese could close it, along with staffing concerns and the cost of maintaining church buildings, Morin said.

Paul Koenig can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

pkoenig@maineMonday.com

 

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