Pawtucket church closing for good; Diocese cites debt, low attendance

Photo: Andy Paskowski | WPRI 12
Photo: Andy Paskowski | WPRI 12

PAWTUCKET, R .I. (WPRI) — Parishioners at St. Maria Goretti Church in Pawtucket didn’t exactly get the best news at Mass this weekend.

They learned the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has approved a request from parish leadership to close the church for good. The last Mass will be Nov. 20.

In a statement, the Diocese cited low Mass attendance, substantial debt, and building deficiencies as the main reasons for the closure.

“The closing of St. Maria Goretti Church is very sad, but now unavoidable,” said Bishop Tobin. “We thank God that the church has served several generations of Catholics and has helped them along the path of salvation. We hope and pray that in the strong and unshakeable faith of the parishioners, the legacy of the parish will live on. I am deeply grateful to all who have served and supported the parish over the years.”

The church was found in 1953, according to the diocesan website. However, in recent days attendance at Sunday Mass has plunged to 135 individuals and parish debt totals about $440,000, the Diocese said.

In addition, the Diocese said there are several serious safety issues with the church building, including a significant leak from the church roof skylight, fire code deficiencies, and a boiler failure. The minimum cost of repairs is estimated at $70,000.

The Diocese said parishioners are being encouraged to attend Mass at nearby churches in Pawtucket, Providence, and North Providence.