The day has come upon us! We will be reunited as one Parish today! This is the day we have been waiting for for some twenty years: the day when 1 + 1 = 1. Our day of reunification. While all of the details (i.e. paperwork) may not have been worked out precisely yet, we are still one parish again. In order to fully appreciate this moment in history I think it best to turn back the clock a bit and look at what has happened. In 1855 the first Catholic Church in Leicester was dedicated to St. Polycarp. The church was constructed by recycling a catholic church from Grafton who sold it to the newly formed parish of Leicester. The parish grew quickly and in 15 years out grew this church and then sold it to the fledgling catholic community in Rochdale soon to be known as St. Aloysius. In 1867 the cornerstone of St. Joseph Church was laid. The new church of Saint Joseph was dedicated in 1870. The parish was still in a tremendous growth period and so had to add on to the original building. The newly renovated building (which is the current St. Joseph Church) was dedicated in 1901. This church served the town of Leicester for 55 years until in 1956 Bishop Rite decreed that the parish of Saint Joseph be divided into two separate parishes; Saint Pius X and Our Lady of the Valley. In 1960 the parish of O. L. V. petitioned and it was granted by the Bishop to change the name of the parish back to Saint Joseph. In 1989 these two parishes (apparently along with St. Aloysius and St. Jude, who refused the request) were united in a “cluster”. This was a result of the shortage of priests. The two parishes have remained as one until this week. It is a long history of Church here in Leicester. We are here in this day adding to that history. We are reuniting the Catholic Community of Leicester. It is an historic day. It is a day of hope and joy. It is also a day of loss and death. In our faith we have come to believe that death is not an end to one’s life, but the new birth into one’s new life, one’s real life. While we will have to suffer the pains of birth, we can also exult in the joy of new life.
Peace and God Bless, Fr. Rob