INDIAN ORCHARD, Mass. (WWLP) – Catholics in Indian Orchard received disappointing news this weekend- a neighborhood church that was damaged in a 2011 microburst will not be rebuilt. Bishop Mitchell Rozanski announced that reconstruction plans have been halted for the St. Jude Church on Main Street.
After lengthy negotiations, the Diocese of Springfield reached a settlement with insurers on the property, and the plan was to demolish the original structure (which had been estimated to cost $3 million to repair), replacing it with a smaller building. Some of the $1 million settlement has been used to tear the old St. Jude’s down, however the remainder of the money will now remain in the Our Lady of Sacred Heart parish community (St. Jude’s is a mission church of Our Lady of Sacred Heart), instead of paying for the rebuilding.
Mark Dupont, spokesperson for the Diocese of Springfield, told 22News that the bishop made his decision for two reasons. The first was that the cost of the construction would exceed what the parish could afford. The second was that there is already an active parish in Indian Orchard- Immaculate Conception Parish on Parker Street- as well as other Catholic churches in the general area.
The bishop said that since St. Jude’s closed “all parts of the parish family have successfully worshiped under one roof at Our Lady of Sacred Heart on Boston Road.”
Dupont said that Bishop Rozanski feels badly about the situation, understanding that people will be disappointed, but in good conscience, he could not proceed at this time.
“Many of our parishes are facing challenges economically, and to add the burden of another building to maintain without any reasonable expectation of an increase in revenue, didn’t seem wise at this point,” Dupont said.
St. Jude parishioner Sharon Sabourin and her husband Ed have been members of the church for more than 40 years. She told 22News that they were very disappointed, saying St. Jude’s had been so much a part of their lives for so many years, though they can understand the economic hardships explained by the bishop.
The Main Street church was established in 1873 as St. Aloysius to serve Indian Orchard’s French-Canadian immigrant community. It became St. Jude Mission Church after merging with the now-closed St. Mathew’s in 1998. It eventually offered masses in English and Spanish to cater to the increasing number of Latino parishioners.