St. Paul Parish this past weekend bid farewell to Father Richard Fitzgerald, who has been transferred to St. Columbville Parish in Brighton after 11 years as pastor at the Wellesley church.
No successor has been named, though Father Paul Soper, director of pastoral planning for the Archdiocese of Boston, writes that “a worthy successor to Father Fitzgerald will be appointed, but it’s better to do these things well than to do them quickly.”
Father Fitzgerald’s departure has raised concern among some in town who are worried that the archdiocese’s broad reorganization plans will mean fewer resources for St. Paul, and could eventually spell the end for St. Paul school or as one reader put it: “imagine a beautiful church situated in downtown Wellesley abandoned just like the church on Route 9,” referencing St. James the Great’s closure.
However, Father Soper writes there are no plans to close either St. Paul or St. John the Evangelist, Wellesley’s two Catholic parishes.
“When the moment is right, the two Parishes will enter into a collaborative, maintaining their Parish identity in the process,” according to Father Soper.
Father Fitzgerald himself dubbed closing rumors “ridiculous,” adding that “a representative from the clergy Personnel Office met with members of the parish staff and parish council and finance council last week. Cardinal O’Malley is now in process of naming a successor.”
The archdiocese has announced a strategy for forming collaboratives among parishes in which they will share resources, including pastors. One component of this plan is letting pastors handle the spiritual side of things, while more business-trained people handle other jobs. Parishes within communities such as Newton, Lynn and Methuen were among those identified during phase one of the collaborative effort.
Wellesley parishes were not included in phase one, but representatives from St. John and St. Paul have met to form a bridge building team to raise awareness about the coming collaborative. One reader who we reached out to expressed optimism that St. Paul is here to stay, describing it as a well-attended and self-sustaining parish. About 1,600 people attend weekend masses, according to the church.