We’re still standing

I must preface this column with the caveat that I’m not diminishing the great sense of loss of those whose parish and/or schools have or are going to close. My family has felt those losses along our life trek as well. 

My purpose is just to say that no matter what has happened, we realize God is still watching over us and loves us unconditionally.

I say this because Denise and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary last weekend. And looking back over the last four decades and even longer, we’ve noticed so much has changed.

I was baptized at the old St. Roch’s Church in Fall River, which has long since closed

I grew up in St. Anne’s Parish in Fall River, and we all know the sad news that recently came out about the parish having to close.

I attended St. Anne’s School for nine wonderful years. I first got to see the old ball park where I had so many fond memories playing in the St. Anne’s Little League, covered over by a parking lot.

Then the school itself closed. I remember when it was being razed, my dad, when he was still with us, snuck behind the fence closing off the site and took a brick from the old building and gave it to me. I still have it in my office.

Denise grew up in Notre Dame Parish in Fall River. She attended Notre Dame School, as did three of my children: Ben, Lauren and Emilie.

The grand old edifice that could be seen for miles from any direction coming into the city burned to the ground in 1982, and took with it a whole city block that included the long-time homes of dozens of people, many of whom we knew or were related to.

Then the parish merged with Immaculate Conception Parish and became St. Bernadette’s, which also ended up closing.

Denise and I got married at the old Notre Dame Church, and the priest who performed the Marriage later realized the priesthood wasn’t his calling, and he went on to another phase in his life.

So, to sum things up, the churches in which Denise and I were baptized, made First Holy Communion, and Confirmation are all closed or are slated to close. The same goes for our children.

The church and parish in which we became husband and wife 40 years ago is no longer, and the priest who married us is no longer a priest.

The parochial schools in which Denise, I, and our children attended are also no longer.

Through the years, each and every closure, merger or change was difficult to go through — and there have been many.

But one major fact remains front and center throughout all the changes, and that is: My wife, children and I are still baptized Catholics; we have made our First Holy Communion, and we are Confirmed in the faith.

We received wonderful educations that cannot be taken away; and Denise and I are still married.

Circumstances may have changed, and adjustments may have had to be made, but in the end, the foundation in the faith that has been laid, and the journey of faith we walk together, continues. 

We’re still standing.

Scandals, demographics, finances, and other human elements cannot change our God, Who remains steadfast in His love for us.

I think a verse from the old Quaker hymn, “How Can I Keep From Singing,” perhaps sums it up best: 

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?


© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts