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Article and Pictures of the Closing of Saint Ann's Church
Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Below is an excerpt from and article in the Woonsocket Call (The Call)

by Joseph B Nadeau, published Oct 30, 2000

Saying goodbye is never easy!

St. Ann's closes its doors forever

Saying goodbye is never easy and the Rev. Eugene Lessard, a former St. Ann's pastor, found that especially true yesterday during the last regularly scheduled Mass in his old church

St Ann's Church

The walk down the center aisle with the Rev. Roger A. Houle, pastor of All Saints Catholic Community, and seven other priests as the 11 a.m. Mass ended, left Rev. Lessard with tears. He had seen the faces of many of his old parishioners in the large crowd filling the church for one last time and there was also the unique beauty of the church built by French Canadian immigrants. "It's really sad," Lessard said as he stepped out of the procession and turned to look back at the altar he had served from for 15 years. But the reality is there and now we have to get on with our lives,he said. But most in the crowd of a thousand people filling the pews under Guido Nincheri's glowing religious frescoes yesterday had already come to accept the closing.In his homily, Houle recalled parish history to show how St. Ann's faced change many times in its past and yet always moved forward. The first French Canadian families to arrive in Woonsocket had little choice in leaving their homes in Quebec, he said. "It was either stay and starve or go out to another country and make a new life and so they did," Houle said.In Woonsocket they found the city's Catholic church to be a parish of Irish immigrants, so they founded their own, Precious Blood, in 1873. After 17 years of growth, families from Precious Blood split off to form the beginning of St. Ann's parish in a building also housing its parish school. And then the new church opened in 1918, after parishioners "dug deeply into their pockets," to build it, Houle said."We may feel like this is Good Friday and feel this is a death," he said. "But if we have learned anything, we have to know that we will rise again. Life changes and is different and we will have a life where there is hope and joy." For many of us that have had ties to St. Ann's, either through Baptisms, Marriages or Funerals, we must remember that there will always be the good thoughts of the happy times that we spent as part of this community. Unfortunately, no longer will we hear Auray Doiron singing his "Minuit Chrétien" at midnight mass.

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Pictures by AFGS member 
"Gerry Constantineau" 

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