|Lanesborough's North American Martyrs Church To Reopen|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
10:28PM / Sunday, April 01, 2012
|A sign welcomes parishioners back to the church that closed in 2008.|
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A lot of the attention has been on the reopening of St. Stanislaus' Church in Adams, but Lanesborough, too, is getting a church back.
The Rev. David Raymond will begin planning the exact usage of the church after Easter.
The small North American Martyrs Church is quietly planning its own reopening.
The reopening comes as part of a decree from the Vatican that found a number of churches should not have been closed, including some in Pennsylvania.
Based on appeals from parishioners, the churches must be retained for "continued spiritual use," according to Mark DuPont, a spokesman for the Diocese of Springfield.
St. Stan's, along with St. Patrick’s and St. George churches in Chicopee, were among the churches that could reopen. The diocese is seeking clarification on the Chicopee churches.
The diocese shut down a number of Berkshire County churches in 2008
in response to declining attendance. That included the small church on Old State Road, along with St. Stan's and St. Thomas Aquinas in Adams, St. Francis of Assisi and Our Lady of Mercy in North Adams and All Saints Parish in Housatonic.
The Lanesborough church was targeted for closure because of its small size and attendance — it seats 123 with an average attendance of 70-80 — and the proximity of larger churches in Pittsfield, Dalton and Cheshire.
With the ruling, Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell asked the Rev. David Raymond of St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Cheshire to plan on reopening North American Martyrs sometime this year for Lanesborough parishioners. DuPont said it is not yet known when or exactly how often the church will be used at this point but that it will be determined by Raymond.
The church will be used as a "shrine" church of St. Mary's Parish in Cheshire, where Raymond is currently based. McDonnell hopes to include a shrine to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who was closely associated with the North American Martyrs, at the church. A regular weekend service also is being planned.