From Catholic church to public library

Source: The Telegram and Gazette

Friday, January 11, 2013

Prayer and books



The former St. Michael’s Church is at 29 North Ave. (T&G Staff/BETTY JENEWIN)


MENDON —  The town has bought St. Michael the Archangel Church and plans to convert the former house of worship on North Avenue into a public library.

The Diocese of Worcester sold St. Michael’s and its attached rectory for $360,000.

The new library would replace the Taft Public Library, which is at 18 Main St.

The project was made possible after residents in November approved two debt exclusion questions. The sale price for St. Michael’s was negotiated between chancery officials and the Taft Library Board of Trustees.

The church was shut down in September 2011 by Bishop Robert J. McManus as part of the chancery’s plan to reorganize the diocese in light of the dwindling number of priests, faltering church attendance and scarce financial resources.

Members of the church were merged with the congregation of Holy Angels Church in Upton into a new parish, St. Gabriel the Archangel.

Diocesan officials said proceeds from the sale of St. Michael’s will be used to help defray the construction costs of St. Gabriel’s, which is at 151 Mendon St. on the Mendon-Upton line.

Holy Angels is still up for sale, though its rectory was sold for use as a family residence.

Town residents have long complained that the Taft Library is too small for the programs needed. Some town officials believe it would be too expensive to renovate the building because any upgrades would require costly changes to make it accessible to people with disabilities.

Several months ago, town officials looked at the future of Mendon’s library needs and considered renovating and expanding the Taft structure, constructing a new facility on municipally owned land, or searching for other properties.

Officials thought that the St. Michael’s option was the best.

At the Sept. 25 special town meeting, voters approved two articles related to the plan.

The project received the final green light on Nov. 6 when residents voted specifically to spend $360,000 to buy St. Michael’s and $1.7 million to renovate it.

The town’s Finance Committee had recommended against the project.

Town officials are hoping to save some money on the new library by enlisting the help of students attending Blackstone Valley Regional Technical Vocational High School.

School officials said the students may help with the painting, carpentry and plumbing, in addition to working on the electrical, heating, and ventilation systems.

Trustees have selected the Newton architectural firm of Drummey Rosane Anderson to draw up plans for the structure.

St. Gabriel’s, which was dedicated in fall of 2011, cost about $8 million and will be paid for through a capital campaign and the proceeds from the sale of St. Michael’s and Holy Angels. It serves about 1,700 families in the area.

Get AQ Email Updates

3 comments on “From Catholic church to public library

  1. hmmhmm….could be worse…they could have sold it to a Qatar ‘charity’, so it could become a koranic institute – the first of many that could eventually claim public funds to create more. what does a diocese do with money from lands sold that were gifted by generations of faithful, hardworking catholics? clearly not lose any sleep.

  2. one of them was referred to as a ‘repurposed church’ (sounds sort of vii – ish) – do they bother to deconsecrate anymore?

Leave a Reply