The History of our Church

Our Heritage

St. John The Baptist

St. Mary of the Assumption

With its founding in 1904, St. John’s certainly can lay claim to being the “Mother Church” of the catholic community of Ludlow. Originally “petitioned” by families of St. Aloysius to serve the French Canadian population of Ludlow, it opened its arms to all immigrants and was the first church to welcome the migration of the first families from Portugal who came to work in the “Mills”. Shepherded by 12 Pastors the church saw substantive growth in both buildings and programs in service to members of the community. Just 2 years after its founding St. John’s dedicated the church and rectory on land donated by the Ludlow Manufacturing Corp. In January of 1923 plans were approved to construct a school and a convent, however the first structure was destroyed by a fire but by August of 1926 the convent was ready to receive the three Sisters of St. Anne staffing the school and the school itself welcomed students for the first time in September 1926. (For over 80 years the Sisters of St. Anne have rendered dutiful service to our parish community and in recognition of their contributions, a statue of Mother Marie-Anne Blondin, Foundress of the Congregation was erected in conjunction with the new parish center.) Of the 12 Pastors and 19 Assistant Pastors stationed at St. John’s there is only one person who served in both capacities and that is our current Pastor Monsignor Gosselin. From 1974 – 1982 Fr. Gosselin served as assistant under Fr. Gerald Beauregard, he later returned as Pastor in March of 1990 only to oversee a major renovation of the church. He later had the insight to realize that the Parish was in need of a Center to accommodate the vast array of programing offer by the parish. With the hard work of a building committee and dedicated parishioners the new center was officially dedicated on Dec. 2nd, 2010 and opened its door debt free. In 1947 a small house and property between Cedar and Yale streets was purchased for a future church to serve the needs of the Italian population of Ludlow. On Palm Sunday, 1948 Rev William Ludessi, CCS, Pastor of Mt. Carmel Church in Springfield offered the first mass at this mission church. In 1949 plans were drawn for a church and once the basement portion was completed the First Mass was held on January 22, 1950. Following the recommendation of the Stigmatine Fathers St. Mary’s transitioned its status as a mission church and became a free standing parish with Fr. Frances Scanlon its first pastor. This was followed two years later (April 1969) with St. Mary’s being designated as a territorial parish. It wasn’t until 1978 that a Steering Committee recommended the erection of an upper church. In Oct. 1978 a New Church Fund Drive was initiated by Fr. Francis Manning the Pastor succeeding Fr. Scanlon. Construction began in January of 1981 and the new church was completed in September of the same year and some 33 years after the parish was formed. In August of 2009 The Diocesan Pastoral Planning Committee recommended the closure of St. Mary’s and its merger with St. John the Baptist. After further review and an unsuccessful appeal, Bishop Timothy McDonnell on Nov. 23, 2009 issued a “Decree and Order” for the formal merger of St. Mary’s and St. John’s to be effective the 4th day of January 2010. A final concelebrated mass with 10 priests, 2 deacons and 3 prior Pastors was offered on January 3rd. More than 450 parishioners participated in this last liturgy at St. Mary’s of the Assumption.

 

The Catholic Community of St. Elizabeth’s

Merging two churches is no easy task as it involves bringing together separate cultures, and integrating parishioners’ information, staff, religious education programs, finances, liturgical ministers, choirs, etc. Fortunately, under the leadership of the two pastors, Msgr. Gosselin and Fr. John Connors the process was very fluid and successful.  Naming of the new parish took on significance in that it should embrace the legacies of both parishes. This was accomplished with the name choice of “St. Elizabeth” as she was the mother of St. John and cousin of Mary. On Jan. 3rd, 2010 sacramental and symbolic items from St. Mary’s were transferred to the new parish and prominent to the front grounds is the statute of Mary. The first weekend Mass at St. Elizabeth’s was held on Saturday January 8th.  Perceptive to the sensitivities of members of both churches, Monsignor and Fr. John made the decision that the first Pastoral Council of the new Parish would be would be an interim body composed of the councils of the previous organizations. This group became important in offering guidance and direction on many of the elements of the merger as well as undertaking the task of composing Bylaws for the new Council and setting elections. As difficult as the merger was for many it certainly provided opportunities for an additional liturgy, new programs, new services, and a faith based community of new friends.