Westbrook’s new Catholic parish of St. Anthony’s is a parish in transition as it heads into 2006.

The parish is still in the process of moving all operations from St. Mary’s Church on Main Street to the historic St. Hyacinth’s Church on Brown Street.

Tony Plante, a member of the parish’s transition team, said for the most part he feels the move has been going as smoothly as could be hoped. “It’s still a process,” he said. “There are going to be ups and downs.”

Right now, the parish is splitting masses between St. Hyacinth’s and St. Mary’s, with the bulk of the weekday masses and some weekend masses being celebrated at St. Mary’s. Plante said the parish celebrated all of its holiday masses at the larger St. Hyacinth’s Church.

Last month, the Portland Catholic Diocese sold the former St. Edmund’s Church property to a Portland-based evangelical church. The diocese is also marketing the St. Mary’s property, but has not had a buyer step forward for that property yet.

Plante feels the next big step in the parish’s transition will come when St. Mary’s is sold, and all Masses are celebrated at St. Hyacinth’s. “Then we’re together all the time as a community at that site,” he said.

Once all parish operations are moved into the St. Hyacinth’s church building, the parish hall on the lower floor of the building will be remodeled into a two-floor space to allow for meeting rooms and classrooms, offices and a chapel. The proceeds from the sale of St. Edmund’s and St. Mary’s will be used to pay for the renovations. Plante said the renovations to St. Hyacinth’s have not yet begun.

While 2005 was a year of upheaval for Westbrook’s Catholics, Plante said he hoped 2006 would be the year the people of St. Anthony’s begin to come together as one community. “We’ve spent so much time focusing on facilities, we really need to spend time looking at the pastoral needs of the community,” he said. “Things have settled down, but there’s still quite a bit of work to do.”

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